AD WARS: Republican Ad Has Mysterious Message
In a strange twist, a "run-of-the-mill" Republican advertisement attacking Vice President Al Gore's prescription drug plan appears to contain a hidden message -- quickly flashing the word "rats" as a part of the larger word "bureaucrats," the New York Times reports. The ad begins by "lauding" Texas Gov. George W. Bush's prescription drug plan and criticizing Gore's plan with the words "bureaucrats decide" appearing on screen. If "the viewer watches very closely," the word "rats" pops up in one frame, the Times reports. The image is in "huge white capital letters, larger than any other word on the commercial," but lasts only one-thirtieth of a second. The ad concludes: "The Gore prescription plan: bureaucrats decide." The 30-second ad has been airing in 33 markets nationwide since August. Gore aides examined the ad "frame by frame," spotted the "suspicious" word and then handed over a copy to the Times. Instead of commenting, the aides said they "preferred that the advertisement ... speak for itself." Alex Castellanos, who produced the commercial for the Republican National Committee, said that the use of the word was "purely accidental," adding, "We don't play ball that way. I'm not that clever." Bush's chief media consultant Mark McKinnon said, "'Rats' is not a message. 'Bad plan' or 'seniors lose' might be, but 'rats?' We're just not that clever. I just watched it five times in a row. Hard as I looked, couldn't see 'rats.'" But Ray Strother, president of the American Association of Political Consultants and a veteran Democratic advertising consultant, said, "There is absolutely no way this can be an accident. I'd be stunned if it was a mistake. If that's an accident, it's counter to everything I know about political consulting. When you're running a presidential race, you're really, really super sensitive to every frame of that spot" (Berke, 9/11). To view the ad, go to http://tm.intervu.net/template/s2/iv/g2_vod.ram?stream=s3/repnatc on/rnc_media/current_media/video/Priority.rm;xtn=.ram. Note: You must have RealPlayer G2 to view the ad.
Republicans Following Democrats' Example
Taking a stance seemingly contrary to traditional Republican views, many "endangered GOP incumbents" have been running ads on "traditionally Democratic issues," including managed care reform, the Washington Post reports. For example:
- In a recent ad, Rep. James Rogan (R-Calif.) said, "I fight for things like ... HMO reform and prescription drug coverage for seniors."
- Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) has been running ads that say, "No matter what you've seen or heard on TV, I can assure you that I am working hard to provide prescription drug coverage to all seniors. ... In fact, I voted for a bill that provides prescription drug benefits for all seniors -- something that's never been done before."
- Rep. Anne Northup's (R-Ky.) ad features pharmacist Clay Sledge saying that Northup's drug plan "will make a big difference for seniors."
- Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.) says in an ad, "As a family physician, I cared for too many seniors who had to choose between food and medicine. And I vowed to change that."