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CNN Today

Independently-Funded Pro-Bush Ad Causes Controversy

Aired October 27, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Get ready for a Cold War flashback. It is one that may create fallout for the Bush campaign just 11 days ahead of the 2000 vote. The commercial is a remake of the infamous 1964 "daisy" ad Lyndon Johnson used against Barry Goldwater. This time, conservatives target Al Gore, suggesting his fund-raising tactics in 1996 may lead to nuclear annihilation. The TV spot began running today in several critical electoral states: Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida, and California.

Here's the ad:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: Under Republican leadership and vision, the Cold War was ended, securing our children from the threat of a nuclear confrontation.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: One, two, three...

NARRATOR: Now, under eight years of Clinton-Gore our security has been sold to communist red China. In exchange for campaign contributions, red China was given access and sold vital technology that will now give China the ability to threaten our homes with long- range nuclear warheads.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: ... four, five, six...

NARRATOR: If Clinton-Gore are capable of selling our children's security, what else are they capable of? Can we really afford to take that chance?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTRESS: ... seven, eight, nine...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.

(EXPLOSION)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: So here we go again.

A Texas group called Aretino Industries paid for the ad, according to "The New York Times." Aretino's Web site does not reveal who is behind the group, but the Gore campaign charges it is a front for a Republican consulting group, one linked to former house speaker Newt Gingrich.

The Gore campaign says the ad is a "desperate tactic," quoting there, designed to help George W. Bush. The Bush folks distanced themselves from the commercial. They say it should be pulled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN HUGHES, BUSH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Governor Bush condemns those type of anonymous attack ads. Our campaign has called this morning -- our campaign political strategist Karl Rove has called the individual who was quoted in the newspaper about that ad and urged that group, whoever they are, to pull down that ad.

Governor Bush believes there's no place in our politics for these type of anonymous attack ads.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

David Peeler is a CNN media analyst and he's in our New York bureau to talk a little more about this.

David, thanks for joining us.

DAVID PEELER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: My pleasure.

ALLEN: Well, like I said, here we go again. It was an ad that caused quite a furor so many years ago during the Lyndon Johnson- Goldwater campaign.

Tell us more, back then, about the impact the ad had then and what you think about its use here today in the year 2000.

PEELER: Well, the interesting thing is back then, in the '60s, when it ran, it only ran a few time. It was pulled because it was controversial back then. My suspicion is that it's controversial now and it will be pulled relatively quickly.

You know, if you're the media strategists on either side of the campaign coin, these are the kinds of things that really just give you fits late at night because, you know, during the last 11 days or so of the campaign it's a very, very controlled atmosphere. You want to try and control your messages; you want to make sure that those proper messages are getting out in those key swing states. And when these independent expenditure groups, particularly these that tend to be a little more roguish than most, come in and enter the fray, what happens is that it gets picked up in the press.

And so, therefore, we talk about it because it becomes an issue and then the candidates have to address it when they're on the stump because, clearly, reporters are going to ask them about the issue. And so I think it's right for the Bush campaign to try and get out in front of this thing and say, we had nothing to do with it. It's pundit advertising and it probably won't last long. We did hear a report that there was about $60,000 put down behind this buy. Interestingly, through last night we had not seen the ad, itself, run. But if it's, indeed, $60,000, that's a very, very small ad buy. It shouldn't run that many times unless they put some more money behind it.

ALLEN: Well, an article in "The New York Times" says that the group has raised $500,000 to buy more time, so it will be interesting to see if this ad continues to run.

Is there any school of thought that this could help Bush in any way?

PEELER: You know, we thought about this when we first heard about it this morning. I don't really think it does. I mean, you know, clearly I think the group's tactics were to ignite the Republican base, which, in a very, very tight race is what you'd expect to see.

I think they probably went a little bit over the line on this one, and so the chance for backlash is a little too great. So I don't think it would really help the Bush campaign too much in this case.

ALLEN: One more question about yet another set of ads, this by the Republican Leadership Council.

We have learned they are buying ads encouraging people to vote for Nader, to try to suck votes away from Al Gore. What do you think about that tactic?

PEELER: Well, that -- I haven't seen the ad itself yet, so I can't comment on the creative -- but from a tactical standpoint, given that, in certain states like Oregon, Washington, and some other states where Nader is running very well and it is a very, very tight election -- this thing is going to be won or lost on the margins -- from a tactical standpoint, that might not be such a bad tactic.

You know, we've seen a lot of this through the primary season and on through the general election season. Groups on both sides are doing this. It's not just the Republicans. We've seen, on the Democratic side, there's an NAACP ad that's running in Missouri and Illinois and other states which kind of goes to the hate crime issue.

And so, you know, as we get down towards the last couple days of the election and because it's so close, I hazard to say that all we're going to see are more negative kinds of ads because you're really trying to either excite your base or suppress the other guy's voter base.

So it's not going to be -- it's going to be interesting for the next few days, I'm afraid.

ALLEN: Most certainly, it will. Media analyst David Peeler; thank you, David.

PEELER: Thank you, Natalie. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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