Fear and Negative Advertising in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is the center of the political universe this weekend as the two national party committees take to the airwaves in a proxy fight aimed at shaping the battlefield on which the 2006 elections will take place.
The Republican National Committee struck first with an ad targeting Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for his alleged opposition to reauthorization of the Patriot Act. The commercial is bookended by Reid's Dec. 16 comment that Democrats "killed the Patriot Act." The ad ends by urging viewers to call Reid and "tell him national security is more important than politics." (A transcript of the ad is here, the video is featured prominently on the www.rnc.org homepage.)
Tracey Schmitt, an RNC spokeswoman, said "if Harry Reid feels compelled to celebrate killing the Patriot Act, we feel compelled to make sure his constituents understand his opposition to policies that keep our country safe."
Enter the DNC, which is funding an ad of its own in Las Vegas this weekend aimed at discrediting President Bush's oft-repeated mantra: "We make a pledge. We keep our word."
The ad points out that 2.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush became president, the federal budget deficit now stands at $337 billion and the "No Child Left Behind" Act remains underfunded. President Bush's image is prominently featured throughout the spot -- perhaps a hint of advertising to come for Democrats both nationally and locally.
Karen Finney, a DNC spokeswoman, said her committee's ad is a sign that Democrats won't let RNC allegations go unanswered. "We are here to fight," she said. Finney added that the ad is also set to run in Nashville, Tennessee, where President Bush is scheduled to visit next Wednesday.
Neither party committee would divulge the amount it is spending on the commercials, but it is safe to assume that Democrats and Republicans aren't breaking the bank in this fight. What's more important than how much is being spent on the ads, however, is what the ads say about where each side wants the midterm election to be fought.
Republicans seem set on following the blueprint laid out recently by White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove at a speech at the RNC's winter meeting. In that address, Rove emphasized national security -- a broad theme that encompasses the wars against Iraq and terrorism, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act and even the National Security Agency's controversial domestic surveillance program.
Democrats, on the other hand, are seeking to turn the election into a referendum on kitchen table issues where they believe President Bush has failed to deliver on for the American people. Expect a heavy emphasis on the economy as well as the new Medicare prescription drug plan and rising gas and energy prices from the Democrats in the coming months. One Democratic party operative added that the party will seek to make this election a referendum not simply on kitchen table issues but on the character and credibility of the Republican party on a slew of issues ranging from domestic to foreign policy concerns.
January 27, 2006; 4:34 PM ET
Categories: Democratic Party , Republican Party
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