BILL BRADLEY: Maternity Ad Under Fire from Gore Camp
The latest ad from Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley that touts his role in a 48-hour maternity stay law has raised hackles in Vice President Al Gore's camp, which says that the ad is misleading. The 60-second ad, which began airing last week in Iowa and New Hampshire, opens with shots of Bradley as a basketball star, Olympic gold medalist, Rhodes scholar and senator, and includes testimonials from Sens. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE). The final testimonial comes from Maureen Drumm, who says: "When I was pregnant with my second child, Bill Bradley proposed a law that women be allowed to stay in the hospital for 48 hours. Thanks to Senator Bradley, my daughter is alive today. That's the type of man I want in the White House" (National Journal News Service, 11/17). Gore supporters immediately cried foul, demanding that Bradley "fix the misleading elements of his new campaign." According to Gore, Drumm's first child was born with complications several years before Bradley's bill passed, and "Bradley knew this, since he mentioned her story in a statement during committee hearings on the bill" (Gore campaign release, 11/17). "Sen. Bradley put up a political ad that was produced by slick Madison Avenue handlers that misrepresented facts," Gore spokesperson Chris Lehane said, adding that it "left the clear impression that Sen. Bradley had taken steps that had saved someone's life. ... That wasn't the case." For her part, Drumm said that she learned that her insurer only covered 24-hour postpartum hospital stay when she was pregnant with her second child, and she was particularly concerned because her "first delivery had been a nightmare." After hearing that Bradley was working on a bill that would mandate a 48-hour minimum hospital stays following delivery, Drumm called Bradley's office, spoke with the senator, and later testified at a hearing. Her insurer pre-approved her for an extended stay and when Bradley's bill was signed into law in 1996, she attended the signing ceremony. Drumm defended her statement in the ad, saying that she "wouldn't have had the courage to get pregnant" a third time if Bradley's bill had not become law. "I did this with my heart," she said of the ad, adding, "These are real events that happened in my life" (Bruch/Enda, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/19). She said, "It's my life, it's not fiction. I can understand now why people don't go into public service" (Sobieraj, AP/Nashua Telegraph, 11/19). The Republican National Committee also assailed the Bradley spot calling it a "highly misleading ad where Bradley pretends he's Marcus Welby with a jump shot." RNC Chair Jim Nicholson said, "It Bill Bradley save Mrs. Drumm's baby, Al Gore invented the internet" (RNC release, 11/18). Click here or type http://video.cloakroom.com/1999archive/11/1116bb1.rm in your browser to view the ad. You must have RealAudio to view the ad.
A Little Help From Friends
Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) came to Bradley's rescue this weekend, criticizing Gore's attack of the Bradley health care plan. Kerrey said he was not pleased with the "tenor and substance" of the Gore offensive and expressed concern that his allegations would "scare so many Americans" that it would impede any Congressional efforts to reform health care (Zuckman, Boston Globe, 11/20). He said, "I do get a little hot under the collar coming from individuals who were responsible for the failure of health care reform in 1994 and then gave upon it" (Zuckman, Boston Globe, 11/21). Instead, Kerrey said , "I think [Gore] should say, 'Here's my plan and here's Bradley's plan and here's how they're different,' instead of trying to scare people." Noting that Bradley was neck-and-neck with the vice president in many polls, Kerrey said, "I think it's remarkable that it's this close against a seated vice president. Everywhere he goes people recognize he's a man with enormous integrity and uncorruptibility" (AP/Newsday , 11/22). A recent Siena College Research Institute poll found that among New York voters, Bradley was a more viable candidate that Gore against GOP frontrunner Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Bradley was running at 37% against 36% for Bush, while the same poll had Gore at 31% against Bush's 38%. Head to head, the poll found that 42% of New Yorkers favored Bradley compared to 38% who favored Gore. The poll of 563 New York voters was conducted Nov. 6-13 and had a margin of error +/-4 (AP/Syracuse Post-Standard, 11/19). Campaigning in Iowa this weekend, Bradley defended his health plan. He said, "I think I'm winning the issue in terms of making it clear that anyone who defends the Medicaid program doesn't understand who is not covered." He added, "I think this is a matter of the American people deciding whether they want to have a big solution to a big problem or whether they want incrementalism and negative attacks" (Pierce, Washington Times, 11/22). Also defending the plan was Bradley's wife Ernestine. Speaking in Seattle last week, Mrs. Bradley said that her husband is so confident in himself and his plan that he "didn't have to perform the alpha male," referring to the Gore campaign's hiring of feminist Naomi Wolf (Nelson, Seattle Times, 11/19).
Continuing the assault on the Bradley's proposal to eliminate Medicaid, the Gore campaign this weekend said that millions of people with disabilities would be "disproportionately impacted by the flawed Bradley plan" since many rely on that program as their source of health care coverage. Instead, Gore unveiled his proposal to strengthen Medicaid and improve access to health care for the disabled. Under the Gore plan, he would:
- Implement a Disability-to-Work program that would encourage both public and private sectors to increase employment for the disabled.
- Create technology resource centers to ensure that youths with disabilities acquired necessary job skills.
- Defend the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Provide prescription coverage for all Medicaid beneficiaries up to $5,000.
- Pass a strong Patients' Bill of Rights (Gore 2000 release, 11/20).