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AD WATCH / THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

Gov. Gray Davis

Gov. Gray Davis' campaign committee unveiled a new television ad Tuesday for initial airing in Central Valley markets as well as on cable TV in the Inland Empire. The campaign also expanded into San Diego with an ad already airing in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Monterey that features U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaking against the recall. The campaign plans to spend about $1 million on all the ads this week.

September 10, 2003

Producer: Doak, Carrier, O'Donnell & Associates

Title: "Circus"

Script: Delivered in solemn fashion by an unseen male announcer: "Newspapers are calling it a circus. 'Millionaires, local gadflies, political mavericks, even a porn king.' All running for governor -- because someone could win with as little as 15% of the vote. Imagine the possibilities. Where a replacement might stand on the issues. Their qualifications? How the uncertainty would impact our economy, even make things worse. A lot's at stake -- the future of the world's fifth-largest economy. Maybe the L.A. Times said it best: 'When the laughs are over, Californians will have to live with the outcome.' "

Pictures: The opening scene features a collage of newspaper headlines on the recall from the Los Angeles Times and the Daily News: "3-Ring Politics," "Circus California" and "158 File Papers for Recall Election." The next scene has head-shots of some of the candidates seeking to replace Davis, which pop onto the screen above the words: "Millionaires, local gadflies, political mavericks and even a porn king." As the announcer talks about the stakes -- "the future of the world's fifth-largest economy" -- aerial footage of California cities, farms and harbors flashes on the screen. The final scene features a boxed line from a Los Angeles Times editorial: "When the laughs are over, Californians will have to live with the outcome."

Accuracy: Many newspapers and political commentators are calling the recall a circus, among other things. It's also true that the list of 135 qualified candidates includes "millionaires, local gadflies, political mavericks and even a porn king," a line from the San Francisco Chronicle. In theory, a candidate could be elected governor with 15% of the vote, although most political experts believe the winner from the 135 candidates will need something more than 30%. Wall Street analysts and business leaders have warned of the potential effect the recall could have on the California economy. One debatable point: Preliminary data proclaimed California the world's fifth-largest economy, but that ranking has shifted in other reports.

Analysis: The ad's objective is simple: The Davis campaign is hoping to raise doubts and fears about the potential consequences of a successful recall and thus persuade more people to vote "no" on the question of whether to remove Davis from office. The ad doesn't mention Davis or the names of any of the candidates seeking to replace him. A small photograph of Davis appears in the lower right-hand corner of the ad's closing shot.

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Compiled by Times staff writer Gregg Jones

Los Angeles Times

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