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California and the West | CAMPAIGN '98

SEE HOW THEY SPIN: Behind the TV Pitch

October 18, 1998|JENIFER WARREN

As Election Day nears, campaign consultants are reviving a time-tested technique--negative or, as they're called in the politics business, "comparative" ads. So it goes in the TV war between the major gubernatorial contenders, Lt. Gov. Gray Davis, the Democrat, and GOP state Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren.

Davis Ad: "Fundamental"

Davis: "There are some very big differences in this election."

Claim: Davis is pro-choice. Lungren is not. Lungren even sponsored legislation to deny choice to victims of rape and incest.

Fact: Lungren opposes abortion on religious grounds, but says he favors exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest. In Congress, however, he sponsored bills to outlaw abortion in all circumstances. He says he did so only to stimulate debate on abortion, knowing such legislation would fail.

Claim: Davis supports a ban on new offshore oil drilling. Lungren won't.

Fact: While in Congress, Lungren opposed a permanent ban on offshore oil drilling, citing national security and domestic oil needs. He now supports President Clinton's 10-year extension of the federal moratorium, but says a permanent ban would limit America's flexibility in a national emergency.

Claim: As California's attorney general, Lungren has refused to enforce the ban on assault weapons.

Fact: The Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 outlawed dozens of guns and set a deadline for owners to register their weapons. Lungren asked the Legislature to extend the deadline and continued to permit gun owners to register their weapons beyond the cut-off point.

Lungren Ad: "Differences"

Lungren: "Gray Davis has been on the wrong side of every major issue before California voters. Just look at our differences."

Claim: Davis was against Prop 13.

Fact: Davis opposed the landmark property tax-cutting measure passed by voters in 1978. So did many Republicans, including Gov. Pete Wilson.

Claim: Gray Davis opposes school vouchers.

Fact: Davis has consistently opposed vouchers, though he says he would be "open" to the possibility if his school-reform program failed. Vouchers typically give parents public funds to help them enroll their children in private schools.

Claim: Davis was against term limits.

Fact: Like many Democrats, Davis opposed voter-approved restrictions on the terms of state legislators and constitutional officers, predicting at one point that it would "bring out the worst in politics."

Claim: Gray Davis was against Proposition 209.

Fact: Davis opposed the 1996 initiative, which ended racial preferences in state hiring, contracts and university admissions.

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