"I find that not only offensive but truly shocking," Wilson said. "I must say I think that is an example of the kind of thing that makes you wonder how much pressure people are going to be able to take before they do things they shouldn't do."
CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS: THE AD CAMPAIGN
The race: Governor. Whose ad?: Pete Wilson.
Wilson, the Republican nominee, on Monday unveiled a campaign commercial targeted to address the issue his aides see as his most potent campaign weapon--crime. The 60-second ad, airing across California, lauds Wilson's support for criminal justice legislation and, particularly, for Proposition 115, the initiative on the June ballot that overhauled the state's trial system to speed up trials and make it easier for prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
The Wilson ad follows by several days the airing of a commercial by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dianne Feinstein that underscored her support for the death penalty.
Ad: The commercial opens with Wilson talking to crime victims, traveling on a campaign bus and in a cafe. "This man has been on a mission for 10 years to change a criminal justice system that was more responsive to the criminals than to the people," an announcer says. Wilson replies: "When you see something that is wrong, the purpose of being in government is to have the ability to fix it."
"And fix it he did," the announcer says, "with a series of bold and sweeping reforms which became law in June."
The ad goes on to quote Ventura County Dist. Atty. Mike Bradbury praising the initiative, and crime victim Colleen Campbell thanking Wilson for his support.
At its close, the ad takes aim at Feinstein, saying she "didn't lift a finger for the crime victims initiative."
Analysis: Wilson did forcefully support the initiative, and its principal political organizers were closely allied with Wilson's campaign. He does not get credit for personally changing the law with "bold and sweeping reforms"; that goes to the voters who overwhelmingly approved Proposition 115.
Feinstein, while saying she supported the measure, downplayed it during her primary campaign against Democratic Atty. Gen. John K. Van de Kamp, who opposed the measure on the grounds that it would endanger abortion rights in California. Since its passage, Feinstein has vowed to enthusiastically enforce it, as has Wilson.
Wilson has proposed anti-crime legislation since 1982 from his post in the Senate. But Wilson's interests have been diversified, and it would be oversimplification to say he has been "on a mission" regarding crime.