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CAMPAIGN 2000 | Ad Watch

DNC Focuses on Health Care Again--This Time Bush's Record

September 06, 2000|Jeff Leeds

Democratic Party officials plan to rotate this 30-second advertisement, titled "Judge," into a media buy already underway and pour up to $5 million into keeping it on for at least a week. The spot is expected to hit the air Thursday in nine key states where the two major parties have been running dueling health care commercials: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas and Maine.

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Producer

Democratic Victory 2000, a corporation formed by media consultants from Squier, Knapp, Dunn; Shrum, Devine, Donilon and consultant Carter Eskew.

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The Script

Announcer: "George Bush says he has a plan to improve children's health care. But why hasn't he done it in Texas? Texas ranks 49th out of 50th in providing health coverage to kids. It's so bad, a federal judge just ruled Texas must take immediate 'corrective action.' The judge's findings: Bush's administration broke a promise to improve health care for kids. The needs of abused kids are neglected. Texas failed to inform families of health coverage available to a million children. Bush's record. It's becoming an issue.

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The Pictures

Opens with a shot of Bush speaking. Cuts to a shot of a little girl looking up at her mother. A gavel comes down. A little boy is shown standing in a doorway. Closes with a shot of Bush.

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Accuracy

It's true that Texas ranks second to last in the percentage of children without health insurance, ahead of only Arizona, according to census population surveys from 1995-97, the most recent available. The federal class-action suit the ad refers to was filed while Democrat Ann Richards was in the governor's office. In 1996, Bush signed a consent decree in which the state agreed to make improvements in its program to provide care for 1.5 million children eligible for Medicaid but not receiving the coverage. The judge's ruling, issued last month, said Texas was in violation of its consent decree and gave the state 60 days to file a plan to fix the problem.

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Scorecard

With this spot, the Democrats are again focusing on health care, an issue where they believe their presidential nominee, Al Gore, can draw swing voters. Party strategists were planning to release the spot last week but held off when the GOP released an ad attacking Gore's credibility to see if there was a backlash. The tagline suggests the Democrats believe voters are only starting to study Bush's gubernatorial administration, although this is at least the sixth ad to attack his record in Texas. The strategy worked well for Bush's father against Michael S. Dukakis in 1988, but poorly against Bill Clinton in 1992.

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