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The Nation | AD WATCH / THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE

President Bush

March 26, 2004

President Bush's latest advertisement, called "Differences," is expected to be broadcast in 18 states, in some places in Spanish, and air on selected national cable channels.

Sponsor: President Bush

Script: Bush: "I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message." Announcer: "John Kerry's economic record -- troubling. Kerry voted to increase taxes on Social Security benefits. And he voted against giving small businesses tax credits to buy healthcare for employees. Kerry even supported raising taxes on gasoline 50 cents a gallon. Now John Kerry's plan will raise taxes by at least $900 billion [during] his first 100 days in office. And that's just his first 100 days."

Images: The ad opens with Bush, in a suit and tie, standing on a balcony on a sunny day and then walking along a White House colonnade. The scene flashes to Kerry on a video screen. Other screens surrounding the image of the presumed Democratic presidential nominee show a collage of text and pictures of people in various activities, such as turning on the lights in a diner or inserting a credit card into a gas station kiosk. The ad zooms in and out of these screens.

Analysis: The 30-second ad focuses on potential political vulnerabilities for Kerry, based on his voting record as a senator from Massachusetts and programs he has offered as a presidential candidate. But the ad omits the context of various Kerry statements and votes, and is misleading in some respects. Kerry supported President Clinton's 1993 budget, which raised taxes on Social Security payments to wealthy beneficiaries. Kerry also voted against efforts to repeal the benefits tax in subsequent years. But the tax was part of a budget plan widely credited with helping turn federal budget deficits into surpluses. On healthcare, Kerry opposed a Republican proposal for business tax credits, but supported Democratic alternatives to make insurance more affordable. On gas taxes, Kerry was quoted in 1994 as favoring a 50-cent per gallon increase, but later shelved the idea and never introduced it as a bill. And the claim that Kerry wants to raise taxes by at least $900 billion is fiercely disputed by his campaign. Kerry has never specifically called for a tax increase of that magnitude. He would, however, push for repeal of some of the Bush-sponsored tax cuts, including the reductions in income tax rates for families earning more than $200,000 a year. But Kerry says he would protect middle- and lower-income families from any rate increases.

Graphics reporting by Times staff writer Nick Anderson

Los Angeles Times

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