DNC Fills Gore's Prescription

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Steve Chaggaris analyzes a Democratic National Committee issue ad called Prescription Drugs that outlines Al Gore's plan to expand Medicare to cover prescription drugs.

The Ad: Prescription Drugs is the Democratic National Committee's first issue ad of this year's election. The 30-second ad points out Medicare's lack of prescription drug coverage and features Vice President Al Gore empathizing with senior citizens. The ad begins running Thursday in 15 states clustered mainly in the Northwest, Midwest, and South. A Spanish version will air on Hispanic stations in some of those states.

Audio: Announcer (dramatic music): Every week, Bob Darthez has to afford his groceries and prescription drugs. He's worked a lifetime, but now he's at the mercy of the big drug companies. They're using money and lobbyists to stop progress in Washington. Al Gore is taking them on. Fighting for a Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors like Bob Darthez.

Gore (music shifts): "People can't afford these ridiculously high prices for prescription medicines. When their doctor prescribes medicine for their health and well being, they oughtta be able to take it."

Visual: The ad begins with a shot of Bob Darthez, a senior citizen, gazing out a window, then sitting at a desk with several bottles on it and looking at a slip of paper - perhaps his grocery bill. The words "The Issue: Prescription Drugs" appear on the screen followed by the words "Big drug companies," "Money," over a picture of money, and "Lobbyist," over a picture of the Capitol dome. When the announcer mentions Al Gore, the ad shows shots of the vice president speaking to a crowd of senior citizens with the words: "The Gore Plan: expand Medicare to cover prescriptions." Then Gore speaks to viewers with the plan's Website on the screen "The Gore Plan: www.1-877-LEADNOW.com." It ends with "Paid for by the Democratic National Committee" at the bottom of the screen.

Fact Check: No inaccuracies.

Strategy: With Prescription Drugs, the Democrats have drawn first blood in the war of the parties' issue ads - paid for mainly by soft money. Clearly, the ad is intended to benefit Gore, even though DNC Chairman Joe Andrew has touted it as a "party-building" effort. In addition, the DNC, admittedly, has worked closely with the Gore campaign and their mutual consultants in creating this ad. It also comes at a time when the vice president has fallen behind George W. Bush in many polls. As a result, the Gore campaign has begun an effort to change his image, discarding attacks on Bush and focusing on positive issues. This ad exemplifies that shift as the party - and Gore - talk about helping seniors with prescription drug costs.