- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2000

AUSTIN, Texas Al Gore and George W. Bush are moving their battle to television, with the Democrat set to debut ads attacking the Texas governor for "failed leadership" and the Republican airing new commercials in 17 states criticizing the vice president on spending and education.

The Democratic National Committee announced three television ads assailing Mr. Bush for his record in Texas, criticizing him on the environment and the minimum wage.

"There's nothing wrong with your screen," said one ad, showing the smoggy skyline of Houston. "What you're seeing is the worst smog in America. The city: Houston, Texas."

The ad campaign will cost several million dollars and will run in as many as 12 hotly contested states: Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The Republican National Committee introduced two new ads yesterday that portray Mr. Gore as a budget-busting spender. The new spots accuse Mr. Gore of wiping out the entire projected surplus with a spending plan three times higher than President Clinton proposed.

"Al Gore's deficit spending plan threatens America's prosperity," says one ad, called "Big Relief vs. Big Government."

States where the RNC is beefing up ads are Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In addition to the budget ad, the RNC is entering the TV market in California, Nevada, Minnesota and Tennessee with an ad, already shown elsewhere, portraying the country as being in an "education recession."

The two candidates also stepped up their war of words yesterday. Mr. Gore is dispatching running mate Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman to Texas for a "failed leadership tour" later this week to bash Mr. Bush's record as governor.

Mr. Lieberman will arrive in Texas after tomorrow's debate in Winston-Salem, N.C., the second in a series of three presidential faceoffs.

"We're not going to be engaging in personal attacks … but we'll be talking about issues, highlighting or lowlighting, I guess we should say Governor Bush's dismal record in Texas," Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein said.

"We're not going to be running down Texas or the people of Texas," he said.

Details have yet to be hammered out, but Mr. Lieberman is expected to highlight long-standing Democratic themes about Texas, including criticizing the serious pollution in the sprawling coastal city of Houston, the state's concealed weapons laws, and the state's high number of people without medical insurance.

The anti-Bush campaign also features four television advertisements to run in swing states, a "Bush Lite" Web site featuring verbal gaffes by the Texas governor and bus trips by a "Texas truth squad" to battleground states.

The DNC also passed out a booklet called "Bush's Kitchen Cabinet" that portrayed "likely Bush appointees" in an unfavorable light. The booklet does not include two likely Bush national security aides, Gen. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, both of whom are black.

In addition, Democrats are introducing an assault on Mr. Bush's sometimes-jumbled campaign rhetoric by issuing daily "Bush bloopers."

The site points out his gaffes, including how the Texas governor pronounced recently deposed Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's last name at his debate last week with Mr. Gore. It said he pronounced it "Milosevick" and at another juncture it was "Milosevix"; the correct pronunciation is "Milosevitch."

The Bush campaign did not mince words in its response to the Gore attacks.

"Al Gore's habit of exaggerating must be contagious, because now he's unleashing Joe Lieberman to exaggerate and distort Gov. Bush's record in Texas… . Instead of making things up about Gov. Bush's record, Al Gore should focus on telling the truth about his own record," spokesman Dan Bartlett said in the lengthy news release.

Mr. Bush's campaign released a detailed list of achievements by the governor, including signing two new clean air laws and signing a sweeping patients' bill of rights law.

Mr. Bush has never denied that the state faces serious problems in pollution, education and health care, but he argues that many of those problems predate his administration and that he has moved aggressively to improve conditions.

Mr. Bush and his aides continued to hammer Mr. Gore's tendency to exaggerate his accomplishments, which they argue raises questions about his credibility.

With new polls showing Mr. Bush pulling ahead, the campaign said its tactic is working.

"I think this is a hastily arranged strategy as a transparent effort to shift the focus away from the sustained criticism of Al Gore's pattern of making up facts," Mr. Bartlett said.

Mr. Bush today will visit Tennessee, Mr. Gore's home state, to tout polls showing the Republican ticket leading slightly in that state. He then will return to Texas to prepare for the debate.

Mr. Gore is holed up in Florida, also preparing for the debate.

• Andrew Cain, traveling with the Gore campaign, contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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