Bush pledges his campaign ads will come from the heart
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN/The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H.
October 26, 1999
Web posted at: 10:59 a.m. EDT (1459 GMT)
CONCORD, N.H. (The Telegraph of Nashua) -- If running for president is like trying to land a job interview, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush today begins marketing a feel-good resume to voters watching television in New Hampshire and Iowa.
An upbeat group of four, 30-second commercials also have another clear purpose to inoculate the Republican presidential front-runner from inevitable attacks on his record as governor of Texas from his GOP primary opponents.
"Secondly, I believe oftentimes campaigns resort to mud throwing and name calling, and Americans are sick of that kind of campaigning," Bush says in one ad.
"What they want to hear is what's on people's minds and where the candidates' hearts are."
Republican rival Steve Forbes plans to begin airing his own television spots later this month. In the 1996 campaign, Forbes spent millions on attack ads against 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole.
Bush campaign aides refused to reveal how much was being spent on the ads which will be broadcast in this state only on WMUR-TV in Manchester other than to say the average person will see them three to five times a week.
"It will be competitive with whoever else is on the air," said Joel Maiola, Bush's New Hampshire campaign manager.
"This is really the fourth quarter of the New Hampshire primary. We have been organizing since last June."
Bush also took advantage of the debate over an income tax before the New Hampshire House of Representatives this Thursday with one spot that touts his record on taxes.
"I believe that once top priorities have been funded we should pass money back to the taxpayers," Bush said.
"That's what I've done in Texas. I signed the two largest tax cuts in our state's history, and we still have no personal income tax."
Maiola claimed the last line wasn't created in direct response to last week's vote in the state Senate to approve a 4 percent income tax.
"Talking about how he's done it, that was always going to be part of the mix. It happens to fit right like a glove into the New Hampshire debate, which we readily accept," Maiola said.
Forbes and former family rights leader Gary Bauer have both criticized Bush for proposing to raise 75 different state taxes during his three years in office.
Most of those were to raise various sales taxes in that state as part of a tax system overhaul that included a cut in state property taxes in Texas. Lawmakers in that state rejected those plans.
Jim Demers, a former Democratic congressional nominee and lobbyist, said Bush's challenge now is to define himself more specifically, and these commercials are one device to do that.
"I think George Bush faces the same problem Al Gore had on the Democratic side, and Gore has made the changes to better connect with voters and define himself," said Demers, a Gore campaign volunteer.
"Bush has to do that now. He remains the front-runner, but I don't think even most Republicans have a clue of where he stands on the issues."
Recent polls in New Hampshire show Bush holding on to first, but U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona has been closing the gap to as little as 10 percentage points.
Bush will be in the state next Monday through Wednesday and give his third and final address on education policy at the Town and Country Inn in Shelburne.
"There's not a candidate I am aware of that has ever gone to the North Country to give a national policy speech," Maiola said.
But Bush will be the only candidate missing Thursday when the other five GOP hopefuls meet for a town meeting-style forum at Dartmouth College in Hanover. The event will be aired live at 8 p.m. on CNN and WMUR.
"We're the only candidate running a 50-state campaign," Maiola said. "Yes, we missed a forum, but some candidates are missing whole states."