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California and the West

Cash-Strapped Campbell Launches Ad Campaign

August 01, 2000|GREG KRIKORIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PHILADELPHIA — Badly in need of more name recognition, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Campbell tapped his sparse campaign fund Monday to launch a week of television and radio ads coinciding with the GOP National Convention.

"I need to get better known," said Campbell, the challenger to Democratic incumbent Dianne Feinstein. The ads will be followed in two weeks by another broadcast campaign during the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

The current 30-second television spots, broadcast on cable and commercial stations in the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and elsewhere in Southern California, include a biographical ad, an endorsement from U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and an MTV-style commercial with Campbell appealing to young voters for support.

The ads will cost $150,000 to $200,000, far too little to saturate the state but a sum that represents a sizable share of Campbell's estimated $1.3-million campaign cash on hand.

The campaign also will run a minute-long radio commercial portraying him as a fiscal conservative and also featuring McCain. The ad, running throughout the state, is being paid for by the Republican Senate Campaign Committee.

Feinstein's campaign, which reported about $3 million cash on hand recently, remained noncommittal Monday about airing any television commercials so far for the Nov. 7 general election.

Campbell's ads began as he asserted that he is narrowing the huge gap between himself and Feinstein. A poll commissioned by his campaign and conducted last week showed him trailing Feinstein 37% to 48%--numbers strikingly different from independent polls showing Feinstein with a lead of as much as 26 points.

"We are still significantly ahead in a poll I don't have much faith in," said Kam Kuwata, Feinstein's campaign manager.

Campbell touted his poll in a morning address to the California congressional delegation here. He invoked the names of former President Ronald Reagan and former Gov. Pete Wilson. Saying that the two leaders "defined the California Republican Party," Campbell clearly sought to ease concerns among Republicans he may have alienated with some of his positions.

At the convention, Campbell has advocated abortion rights, called the nation's anti-drug policies a failure and likened the recent U.S. decision to fight drug lords in Colombia to a modern-day Vietnam.

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