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The Race to the White House

Ad Watch

June 03, 2004

This 30-second television advertisement, unveiled Tuesday, will target 20 states -- Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Titled "Optimists," it also will be shown on several national cable news channels.

Sponsor: Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, Democrat for president.

Script: Kerry: "We are a country of the future. We're a country of optimists; we're the can-do people."

Male narrator: "For John Kerry, a stronger America begins at home. Real plans to create jobs here, not overseas; lower healthcare costs; independence from Middle East oil. And in the world, a strong military and strong alliances -- to defeat terror. America: stronger at home, respected in the world. John Kerry for president."

Kerry: "I'm John Kerry. And I approve this message."

Images: The spot opens with a close-up of an unidentified, smiling girl. It then scrolls through flag-bedecked footage of Kerry speaking to an interviewer, greeting voters and delivering speeches in front of a Navy ship and elsewhere. There are shots of a saluting veteran, factory workers, other children and an oil derrick. A sign touts Kerry's logo, "The Real Deal."

Analysis: In this ad, Kerry makes broad points to appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike. He offers no specifics about the cost of his domestic plans and how he would pay for them. Nor does he say what steps he would take with the military and international diplomacy that differ from the path taken by President Bush. Viewers are referred to Kerry's campaign website for details. Images of Kerry smiling, against a backdrop of the Stars and Stripes, help counter critics who call him aloof. They also reinforce his patriotism at a time when his Republican opponent is attacking his shifting stance on the Patriot Act, enacted as part of the war on terrorism.

The Democrat also criticizes Bush implicitly with the argument that a Kerry administration would make America "stronger" than it is under the incumbent. Bush contends the opposite.

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Source: Nick Anderson, Times staff writer

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