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CAMPAIGN 2000 | Ad Watch

Democrats' Commercial Touts Smaller Classes, College Tax Breaks

September 19, 2000|Jeff Leeds

The Democratic Party released this 30-second advertisement, titled "Accountability," featuring Democratic nominee Al Gore speaking about education. It is scheduled to run in 17 competitive states, including Florida, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana and Washington.

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Producer

Democratic Victory 2000, a firm composed of principals in three media offices--Squier, Knapp, Dunn; Shrum, Devine, Donilon and consultant Carter Eskew.

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The Script

Gore: "George Bush and I actually agree on accountability in education."

Announcer: "The Gore plan begins with accountability."

Gore: "We need smaller class sizes and better trained teachers."

Announcer: "100,000 teachers to lower class size, increase discipline and learning."

Gore: "We need help for middle-class families to pay college tuition by making it tax deductible."

Announcer: "A $10,000 deduction for every year in college."

Gore: "We are making education the No. 1 priority."

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The Pictures

Opens with Gore, wearing a tan shirt with sleeves rolled up, speaking outdoors. Camera pans across a classroom with schoolchildren raising their hands. Gore, holding a microphone, stands next to his running mate, Joseph I. Lieberman, and in front of two cheerleaders. A teacher kneels at a student's desk. Camera pans on children's desks from overhead; cuts back to Gore speaking with Lieberman. Students wearing graduation gowns and holding diplomas. A father sitting on a porch talking to his son. Ends with Gore speaking.

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Accuracy

It's true that the two major candidates' education proposals share some common ground. Both rely at least in part on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a respected exam given to a national sample of fourth-, eighth- and 12th graders. Gore would call on states to participate in giving the test by 2004 and either show improvement or lose certain federal funding. Bush would require the same test and would administer it more often. Bush would also require state-level testing in grades 3-8. At schools in which test scores don't improve after three years, the Bush plan would transfer some of that school's federal dollars into vouchers that parents could use toward tutoring or private school tuition. Under Gore, failing schools would be shut down and reopened with a new principal and teachers.

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Scorecard

With this spot, the Democrats are seeking to pull the rug out from under Bush just as he's refocusing his campaign on promoting policy initiatives. By blurring the lines over which candidate would be a tougher superintendent for the nation's schools, the Democrats are seeking to make it slippery going for Bush. Unlike previous Democratic Party ads, which were funded in part with the controversial corporate donations known as "soft money," this spot was paid from "hard money" accounts, meaning the contributions from individuals were limited to $1,000 each. It also means the commercials can promote Gore's candidacy and be directed by the vice president's campaign.

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