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Tying Rick To Newt

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The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Francesca Gessner looks at a soft money ad for Hillary Clinton tying her Republican foe, Rick Lazio, to the conservative agenda of Newt Gingrich.

The Group: New York State Democratic Committee

The Ad: The New York State Democratic Party has released a new TV ad on behalf of Hillary Clinton linking Rep. Rick Lazio to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The 30-second ad titled Stand shows grainy footage of Lazio and Gingrich together, and features interviews with men and women on the street expressing shock and disappointment to hear that Lazio supported Gingrich's measures. The ad is running statewide in New York.

Audio: Announcer: "Excuse me, did you know that for four years, Rick Lazio was deputy whip to Newt Gingrich in Congress?"
Woman on Street: "No I didn't know that."
Man on Street: "This does surprise me."
Announcer: "And that he helped write and pass the Gingrich budget, with two hundred and seventy billion in Medicare cuts?"
Man on Street: "I find that rather disappointing, yes."
Woman on Street: "I thought he was more pro-healthcare"
Announcer: "And that Lazio followed Gingrich's lead and voted for the largest education cuts in history?"
Woman on Street: "Oh my goodness, I didn't know that."
Woman on Street: "That's not good."
Announcer: "Tell Lazio to stop playing both sides."
Woman on Street: "Who knew?"

Visual: The ad features "man on the street" interviews conducted by an off-camera narrator. The ad opens with a woman being asked if she knew Lazio was deputy whip for Newt Gingrich. The woman is shocked and says she didn't know. The ad continues with the announcer making a series of statements about Lazio's record with text in conjunction, "For four years, Rick Lazio was a deputy to Newt Gingrich in Congress?", "Lazio helped write Gingrich budget…with $270 billion in Medicare cuts," and "Lazio voted for the largest education cuts in history." Meanwhile, the camera goes from person to person, showing them surprised and disappointed as they hear about his record. The ad concludes with the text, "Call Lazio 202-225-3335."

Fact Check: Regarding Medicare, Lazio voted in 1995 to reduce the rate of growth in Medicare spending. Lazio's campaign contends that cutting the rate of growth is not actually a cut in the Medicare budget.

Strategy: Stand takes aim at Lazio's image as a moderate by trying to pin him to one of the more unpopular conservative figures in America: Newt Gingrich. This strategy is not new for Clinton, who has linked Lazio to Gingrich in several of her ads and campaign speeches. In fact, the ad's suggestion that Lazio is not what he apears echoes the tag line in Clinton's recent ads: "Rick Lazio… the more you know, the more you wonder." The ad's use of ordinary people tries to suggest that average, rational voters are shocked to learn the facts about Lazio. Moreover, the ad implies that Lazio has tried to hide his conservative side as exemplified by the ending line, "Who knew?" The ad is paid for by soft money which the New York State Democratic Party can use to run "issue ads" as long as they do not explicitly advocate a specific candidate.