- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 1999

George W. Bush is rolling out a series of TV ads on education and tax cuts in a set of ads that focuses on what he would do as president.
Mr. Bush had promised to begin taking on challenger John McCain. However, the upbeat spots make no mention of his Republican opponents.
"The New Hampshire way is to cut taxes, and I've got a plan to cut the taxes," Mr. Bush says in a spot that will begin airing in New Hampshire markets tomorrow. A narrator goes on to tout the benefits of his plan, which cuts tax rates at all levels, eliminates the marriage penalty and the estate tax.
Another version of the ad, airing in Boston and Iowa, makes similar points.
In each of the ads, Mr. Bush is dressed in casual earth tones, talking with small groups in some scenes; in other shots, he is wearing a suit, addressing an audience. Children, students and older people gather around him.
In three education spots, Mr. Bush touches on his support for everything from teaching phonics to setting "high standards" for children. And he emphasizes both local control over schools and accountability for results. That includes allowing vouchers where public money is used for private schools.
"I'm going to ask the question, are they learning? And if they're not, we will free the parents so they can make other choices," Mr. Bush says in ads prepared for stations in Boston and New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary on Feb. 1.
A third education ad, prepared for Iowa, stresses similar themes.
"This is a just a matter of the governor clearly defining his agenda," said Mark McKinnon, who developed Mr. Bush's advertising strategy and produced the ads. "As we're drawing close to voting time, voters will get a clear sense of what he cares about."
Iowans will cast the first votes in caucuses Jan. 24.
The average television viewer in these markets will see each of these ads five to 10 times over the next two to three weeks.
The Bush campaign is also producing a series of "real-time" ads documentary-style clips of Mr. Bush on the campaign trail, talking with voters, which will air the next day. The idea is to capitalize on one of Mr. Bush's strengths his ability to connect with voters one-on-one.
"The governor's right there in the trenches, sleeves rolled up, talking to voters," Mr. McKinnon said.
The campaign plans to produce one of these spots every day that Mr. Bush is in New Hampshire. Mr. McKinnon said he would also create next-day ads when Mr. Bush's wife, mother or father campaign in New Hampshire on his behalf.
Mr. Bush has delivered major speeches on both education and taxes, trying to bolster his compassionate conservative theme. Education consistently ranks among American's top concerns, and taxes are also a popular issue, particularly among Republican voters. Congressional Republicans plan to focus on these very issues as they defend their slim majority next year.
So far, the Bush campaign has produced about eight ads for each market, including another that focused on education. One ad promised a positive campaign without mudslinging; another vowed to return "honor and dignity" to the White House a thinly veiled reference to President Clinton's troubles.
Vice President Al Gore, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, released a new ad Saturday, focusing on his experience in handling tough issues.
His spokesman, Chris Lehane, dismissed the Bush ads as "the latest example of the Texas two-step."
Mr. Bush says he's for education, Mr. Lehane said, but "on the other hand he's offering a risky tax scheme that would blow up the budget and potentially wreck the economy.
"His numbers just don't add up."


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