Advertisement

Messages From New Hampshire : Four of the major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have begun television advertising campaigns in New Hampshire, site of the first primary on Feb. 18. Here are key ads, with analysis by Times staff writer Thomas B. Rosenstiel.

AD WATCH. Campaign '92. One in an occasional series.

January 22, 1992|THOMAS B. ROSENSTIEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton

The Ad: "For 12 years the politicians in Washington have raised their pay, cut taxes on the rich and raised taxes on the middle class. That's wrong. I'm Bill Clinton and I think you deserve a change. That's why I've offered a plan to get the economy moving again, starting with a middle-class tax cut--and asking the rich to pay their fair share again. In 11 years as governor, I've never had a pay raise. And as President, I'll veto pay raises in Washington until middle-class incomes are going up again. Let's put government back on the side of the people for a change."

Analysis: The ad stresses Clinton's economic plan and tries to portray him as a Washington outsider, in contrast with two of his rivals, Sens. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Tom Harkin of Iowa, both of whom accepted the Senate pay raise.

Clinton's plan is more comprehensive than it is specific. Clinton does offer some detailed proposals, such as his idea to cut "middle class" taxes by 10% and pay for it by increasing taxes on those making more than $200,000. On other fronts, however, such as his health-care and job-training proposals, Clinton has offered general principles but not detailed plans. On education, he has offered a mix of specific proposals--such as full funding of Head Start--along with generalities such as expanded opportunities for worker retraining.

Clinton's strategy is that New Hampshire voters, depressed by the state's moribund economy, will respond to ads offering programs rather than commercials emphasizing personal character.

Clinton aids contend that 4,000 people had called a phone number included in the ad to ask for a copy of the plan.

Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey

The Ad: "What's happening in the world economy is like a hockey game where others guard their goal to keep our products out--while we leave our net open. It's cost us jobs and destroyed companies. We're becoming a low-wage nation--and all George Bush does is go to Japan and beg for a few concessions. I'm Bob Kerrey--and if I'm President, the time for begging is through. I'll tell Japan if we can't sell in their market, they can't sell in ours. And if they don't get the message, they'll find out this President is ready to play a little defense too."

Analysis: Kerrey's voting record on trade is not clearly protectionist. He supported the Bush Administration plan for "fast track" trade negotiations with Mexico, which most labor unions and environmentalists opposed on the grounds that it would cost U.S. jobs and add to pollution problems. Also, Kerrey has said he would "probably not" support a bill threatening sanctions against the Japanese unless they agreed to eliminate the trade deficit with the United States in five years, and threatens sanctions.

This ad introduced a new issue into Kerrey's campaign message. It is reminiscent of the spots Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt used to win the Iowa caucuses in 1988. Not coincidentally, Kerrey has the same media consultant as Gephardt. Kerrey's other ad, also introduced on Jan. 10, describes him as the only candidate with a bill in Congress to create national health insurance, which was his primary issue for the first months of the campaign.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin

The Ad: "What I want to do as President is take all this money that we're wasting--all these tax breaks to the rich and big corporations, all the money we're sending overseas--and I want to invest it in the best research, the best learning, the best designing, the best manufacturing, the best transportation system, energy system, mass transit, high speed rail. I want to be the builder. I want to build America. I want to be known as the President that rebuilt America."

Analysis: The ad is remarkable first for its look. Harkin, who can be fiery on the stump, is shown in a darkly lit studio against a black background wearing a dark suit, and speaking in subdued tones. It apparently is designed to soften Harkin's usual tough-talking image, which so far has failed to catch on, according to early New Hampshire polls. Strategists from rival campaigns say Harkin's style may be too angry in a state in which people are already depressed, and his shirt-sleeves derision of Bush in campaign speeches has seemed "unpresidential."

Harkin's campaign hopes to boost the senator's chances by running the ads nearly twice as often as Clinton's spots run. Harkin's ads, unlike Clinton's and Kerrey's, do not discuss specific plans.

Former Massachusetts Sen. Paul E. Tsongas

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|