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Bush Responds to Gore's Rising Popularity with Negative AdAired August 31, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A Republican air offensive is about to be launched with Al Gore as a target of so-called "humor." The Gore camp is not amused. The GOP-campaign commercial follows Gore's recent climb in opinion polls, and could signal the race is about to get tougher.
Here's the latest ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RNC AD)
NARRATOR: Al Gore: reinventing himself on television again. Like I'm not going to notice. Who he going to be today?
The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple, or the one who now promises campaign finance reform?
Really. Al Gore. Claiming credit for things he didn't even do.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I took the initiative in creating the Internet.
NARRATOR: Yes, and I invented the remote control, too.
Another round of this and I'll sell my television.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATERS: Just last week George W. Bush intervened to quash a negative ad out of fear it might incite a voter backlash. Responding to the spot we just showed you, a Gore spokesman said, "When Bush's back is against the wall, he will do anything to get elected."
The spokesman also accused Bush of breaking a promise not to engage in negative attacks. And, in a press release, the Gore camp printed quotes from Bush pledging civility and respect.
We expect to hear, in a moment, from Gore himself. He's to appear in Seattle, where he's talking about health care again today and may make a few remarks on this new commercial attack.
Right now, let's bring in our own senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
And now it begins, Bill. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It certainly does. We knew this was going to happen, we just didn't know it was going to happen now. Before Labor Day, they're already starting with the negative ads.
And this -- make no mistake about it, this is a negative ad. It's a personal ad. They claim it's humorous because it makes fun of Gore. But it does hit him on some issues where he is most vulnerable: mainly on the perception that he's over-ambitious, will say or do anything to get elected, and that he can't be trusted.
WATERS: And why still be cautious about it? This ad is described by a Republican aide as a tongue-in-cheek, good-natured attempt.
SCHNEIDER: Well, if you describe it as tongue-in-cheek and good- natured, what that implies is: We don't really mean to be negative. But, we just saw that ad, I'd call that pretty negative. It's not a joke, it's a negative ad and it's a very tough attack.
WATERS: So all this talk about "We're not going negative," has been just that, talk.
SCHNEIDER: Well, it has been just talk. The candidates make distinctions in which they say: Well, it's not a negative ad if it isn't personal, if it attacks a candidate's record.
For instance, the Democratic Party, we are told, is about to release an ad criticizing Bush's record on low-income children who are Medicaid recipients in Texas. But they claim: Well, that's not negative.
Of course it's negative, it's a criticism. But it's not personal.
It's going to be hard to argue that this ad isn't personal. The best they can do is to say: Well, it's negative, but it's funny, so don't take it too seriously. Believe me, it has serious intent.
WATERS: Are we to take seriously George Bush intervening in last week's ad, pulling it because of a fear of a voter backlash?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that also was a negative ad, but he pulled it for a very specific reason. It was deceptive. The ad used a sound bite from an interview done in 1994, in which Bush -- sorry, Gore, claimed or argued, then, that Clinton could be trusted, that he had never told anything that was untrue.
It sounds ridiculous now because the implication was Gore had said it recently about the Monica Lewinsky affair. But the fact is, Gore had made that statement in 1994 and the ad was deceptive, and the voter backlash would have happened because the Republicans would have been accused of running a misleading ad. That was the problem with that one.
WATERS: And we have Cheney on CNN TODAY, on national security claiming the Clinton-Gore administration weak in the military.
SCHNEIDER: Well, now that's politics. That's what it's supposed to be about. You attack -- Gore attacks Bush's record in Texas, Bush and Cheney attack the Clinton-Gore administration's record. That's what politics is all about. And that, of course, is front and center in this campaign, whether the nation's military preparedness had suffered -- has suffered, voters have to consider both charges, both sides of that issue and decide whether it's a serious problem.
But that's not personal and it's not negative -- it's negative, but it's not personal.
WATERS: All right, Bill Schneider in Washington.
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