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Buchanan Serves Up A <i>Meatball</i>

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Steve Chaggaris analyzes a new ad from Reform Party presidential nominee Pat Buchanan.

The Ad:size>color>
Pat Buchanan has released Meatball, his first TV ad since receiving $12.6 million in federal funds for his Reform Party candidacy. The 30-second ad focuses on the immigration issue. The ad is airing in 22 states, with an emphasis on California and Arizona. The Buchanan campaign declined to name all the states where the ad will air.

TV Newscaster (in background): "...has signed an executive order saying that English is no longer America's national language..."

[Man chokes on food, picks up phone and dials 911.]

911 Recording: Thank you for calling 911, please listen for your language. For Spanish, press 1. For Korean, press 2. For Bengali, press 3...

Announcer: Do you miss English? Immigration is way out of control.

911 Recording: ...For Swedish, press 5...

Announcer: Bush and Gore are writing off English for good. What can you do? Vote for the third party that puts Americans first. Vote Buchanan for president.

911 Recording: ...for Swahili, Press 12.

Meatball opens with a middle-aged man eating spaghetti and meatballs while watching a TV newscast. He winds up choking on his food and dialing 911. He continues to choke on his food as he listens to the 911 recording, eventually passing out. A picture of Buchanan and text urging people to vote for him is revealed. The ad ends with a shot of the man passed out on the floor - his dog on his stomach, licking the food off of his face.

Fact Check:size>color>
The ad states, "Immigration is way out of control," which is a debatable generalization. Additionally, although both George W. Bush and Al Gore oppose mandates making English the official U.S. language, saying they "are writing off English for good" is a stretch.

The Buchanan campaign is jumping into the ad wars with a bang, utilizing crass humor in discussing an extremely controversial issue - immigration. Two of the states he's targeting with the ad, California and Arizona, have many residents who have firsthand experience with illegal immigrants and are passionate about closing the borders and/or denying them benefits. Buchanan, who polled at 1 percent in the latest CBS News poll, is pulling out one of his bread-and-butter issues to try to rally his supporters and ignite his campaign.

To pay for Meatball, the under-funded Reform Party nominee is uing part of the $12.6 million in federal campaign funds he received. The Buchanan campaign is hoping the ad buy will help him receive 5 percent of the vote in November, the threshold for receiving federal funds in 2004. (Ross Perot received 8 percent of the vote as the Reform party presidential nominee in 1996.)

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