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GOP Goes To School

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the campaign commercials of the presidential hopefuls. Jane Ruvelson analyzes the latest Republican effort on behalf of George W. Bush.


The Ad:
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has released a new commercial focused on George W. Bush and education. The spot, entitled Expect More, is running in 20 states, including the 17 battleground states the Republicans and Democrats have been targeting; plus California, New Hampshire and Nevada. The RNC is spending over $12 million on the ads through month's end, which it considers a "substantial" media buy.

Audio:
George W. Bush: "If we really want to make sure no child gets left behind in America, we need the courage to raise standards in our schools. We need more accountability and more discipline. And we need to stop promoting failing children to the next grade and giving up on them."

Announcer: "George Bush raised standards. Test scores soared. Texas leads the country in academic improvement."

Bush: "It's easy to just spend more. Let's start by expecting more."

Announcer: "Learn more about the Bush Blueprint for accountability, high standards and local control."

Visual:
The ad is full of kids - African-American and Hispanic children and white teens. We see the children in school and at play. The teens are shown at an outdoor graduation. Bush addresses the camera directly, clad in casual clothes. He is later shown interacting with the children and teens.

Fact Check:
Possible inaccuracies. Bush, who is campaigning on his record in Texas, frequently points to the state's improved academic achievement. But while test scores have risen, Texas still ranks near the bottom at 45th of the 50 states in student SAT performance. Additionally, some say the improvements occurred because students with poor scores were either herded into special education classes (exempting their scores from the state averages) or dropped out of school altogether. Additional criticism has centered on teachers allegedly "teaching to the test," or focusing instruction on test matter only, in hopes of raising scores.

The Strategy:
With Expect More, the RNC links the Bush to education, an issue that crosses party lines. The touchy-feely ad, full of cute kids and an emotional Bush, are meant to establish the candidate as "a different kind of Republican," a "compassionate conservative."

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