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A Long Talk With Dollar Bill

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the political commercials of the presidential hopefuls. Sean Richardson analyzes the latest effort of Democrat Bill Bradley.


The Ad: Last week, the Bradley campaign began running an unprecedented ad on Iowa cable stations. The ad, called "Meeting," is more of an infomercial than a campaign ad. It's 20 minutes long and the footage is from a town meeting taped in Sioux City, Iowa.

launch videoExcerpt from Bill Bradley political ad.
launch videoMore from Bradley political ad.

Audio: Bradley (Excerpt): "I want to be president of the United States in order to use the power of that office to do good. And if enough people in America realize they have the power to do good, and a president is president in order to do good, then what we thought would never happen will happen. And we will then live in a world of new possibilities.

"For example, some people say you will never eliminate child poverty. Well, in a world of new possibilities you can. Some people say you will never cover everybody with health insurance in America. In a world of new possibilities you will. Some people say there's no way you can keep this economy growing like it's growing and at the same time help family farmers and move working families up so they have a better chance to provide for their kids and have a better future. But in a world of new possibilities, the one will follow the other like the morning follows the night.

"When you are president what you do is you say this is the way we go and here's the program. All presidents do that. But the untapped potential of the presidency is to unlock in each of us our capacities as public citizens; our awareness of the connections among us as citizens and as human beings; and to deepen the connection that we all have that with hard work and clarity of purpose, and giving your neighbor the benefit of the doubt, there's nothing that is impossible."

Question (Excerpt): "Most people today don't get involved in politics because they don't trust the politicians. What have you done in your political career to prove to us that you are not politics as usual?"

Bradley: "Very good question. In this campaign, the first speech I made dealt with this kind of issue. And I said I go to college campuses and volunteerism has never been higher; people want to mentor their kids, they want to help. But political participation has never been lower. Why is that? Because to young people in America, increasingly to all people in America, politics has become nothing more than the mechanics of winning -- all the talk about fundraising, polling, spinning. What's been lost is why I got into politics: service. What's been lost is the message Robert Kennedy gave in 1964, when I was a student intern and heard him say: 'Look, politics is a noble profession. It doesn't have to be corrupt or deceitful. It's a way you can help your fellow man.' I said, yeah, that's why I want to be in politics."

Visual: The ad opens with the camera following Bradley as he walks into the Sioux City town hall. Bradley, dressed in a dark suit and red tie, is introduced by a man named Al, who uses the opportunity to recite the former senator's resume. When Bradley takes over the microphone, he begins with a biography that is reminiscent of most of his stump speeches. Talking about Crystal City, Missouri, and his family, Bradley is extremely at ease and comfortable discussing his roots.
The second half of the ad shows Bradley answering questions on several issues including health care, campaign finance reform, education, abortion and trust of elected officials. The ad concludes with Bradley mingling with the participants and a woman who states, "I'm here because I'm committed to electing your wife first lady." Bradley responds, "Thank you, she deserves it."

Fact Check: No Inaccuracies.

Strategy: Throughout this campaign, Bradley has been trying to establish himself as the anti-Washington candidate. He touts the time he spent away from Washington in his post-Senate career, and has tried to use that experience to label himself an outsider. This is not a new strategy. But for someone who spent 18 years in the Senate, it's very hard to pull off.

When Bradley retired from the Senate, he claimed that politics was "broken." He said that it was important for him to get back to Main Street America and to listen to the problems that are effecting average Americans. In this ad, Bradley is attempting to do just that. He's trying to reach Iowa voters through an unfiltered, home movie-like format. The image the campaign is trying to portray is the blue collar, unslick Bradley that they believe will resonate well with the Iowa electorate.

The Bradley campaign is currently facing a 20-point deficit in Iowa polls. Bradley has spent $800,000 on advertising in the state over the last month. Now the campaign is targeting "new, nontraditional" Iowans including casual Democrats, independents and even Republicans who can be convinced to participate in the caucuses for the first time.

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