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Hill Turns Up The Heat

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Francesca Gessner takes a look at News Update: Heating Oil, a TV commercial for New York Senate candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Ad: Democratic N.Y. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton has released the fifth in a series of attack ads aimed at her opponent, Long Island GOP Congressman Rick Lazio. The 15-second ad titled News Update: Heating Oil slams Lazio for missing a House vote last week on legislation to create a home heating oil reserve for the Northeast. The ad is running in upstate New York.

Audio: Announcer: "Congress just defeated a plan - by only two votes - to lower home heating oil costs for New York and the Northeast. How did Rick Lazio vote? He didn't. He skipped the vote. Rick Lazio. The more you know...the more you wonder."

Visual: Mimicking a news update, the ad shows a black screen with white words being typed across the screen. The sound of a typewriter taps in synch with the words, while a male announcer's voice reads the text. A small photo of Clinton and her campaign logo appears in the corner of the screen at the ad's conclusion.

Fact check: On June 15, Lazio missed a House vote on a bill to create a Northeast Oil Reserve that could be used to control surges in home heating oil prices. The bill was defeated by just two votes, 195-193. Lazio missed the vote because he was returning to New York to campaign. However, the ad does not mention that Lazio supports the measure and that five New York Democratic Congressmen also missed the vote.

The Strategy: While News Update: Heating Oil, is part of a recent onslaught of negative ads released by Hillary Clinton's campaign, its focus on oil prices is particularly timely. As escalating gas prices have become a hot issue in the 2000 presidential campaign, with this ad Clinton inserts the topic into the N.Y. Senate race. The ad skillfully targets upstate New York, where cold winters make home heating oil prices an especially salient issue, particularly for low-income families and seniors living on fixed incomes.

Lazio responded on Monday, challenging Mrs. Clinton to join him in the fight to repeal what Lazio called the "Clinton-Gore gas tax," an increase of 4.3 cents per gallon enacted in 1993. Lazio's label of the 1993 tax as the "Clinton-Gore gas tax," reflects his own strategy to "nationalize" the N.Y. race and link Mrs. Clinton to her husband's administration.

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