Koch Gives Hillary A Hand

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CBS
The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Francesca Gessner takes a look at two similar TV commercials made for Hillary Clinton by Ed Koch.

Candidate: Hillary Clinton

The Ads: New York Democratic Senate candidate Hillary Clinton has unveiled a second round of TV commercials attacking her Republican foe, Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio. The two similar ads, I Love New York and Trust Me, feature former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. Koch hits Lazio's stance on gun control, abortion and HMO reform. He also slams Lazio for considering sharing the New York Independence Party line with Pat Buchanan. The ads are running in New York City only.

I Love New Yorksize>color>

Audio: Ed Koch: I like Rick Lazio, but I am not voting for him. He's wrong on too many issues. He opposes licensing and registration of handguns - which I support and Hillary supports. He's not really pro-choice because he won't support funding abortion for poor women, which I support and Hillary supports. And he was willing to run on the Independence line with Pat Buchanan, which I could never agree with. Hillary had the guts to say no way to Buchanan. She's my choice. Trust me. I love New York."

Visual: Ed Koch speaks directly to the camera, seated in book-lined office and dressed in a jacket and tie.

Fact check: Lazio opposes gun licensing and registration, calling it "invasive," but has supported gun-control measures such as the assault weapons ban and the Brady bill. Lazio calls himself "pro-choice," but does oppose Medicaid funding for abortion. Lazio said he would be willing to accept the New York Independence Party endorsement, and thereby run on the same line as Pat Buchanan. Clinton said she would refuse to share a line with Buchanan. In the end, Lazio did not receive the party's endorsement.

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Audio: Ed Koch: "I like Rick Lazio, but I am not voting for him. He's wrong on too many issues. He opposes licensing and registration of handguns - which I support and Hillary supports. He' s not really pro-choice because he won't support funding abortion for poor women, which I support and Hillary supports. And he's not really for the Patients' Bill of Rights, because he voted against the right to sue your HMO. She's my choice. Trust me. I love New York."

Visual: Ed Koch speaks directly to the camera, seated in a book-lined office and dressed in a jacket and tie.

Fact check: Trust Me is identical to I Love New York on gun control and abortion, but differs at the end by targeting Lazio's opposition to a Patients' Bill of Rights. 1999, Lazio opposed a bipartisan bill that would have allowed patients to sue their health plans for damage in state courts. Instead, he supported two Republican versions of the bill that did not allow such lawsuits.

The Strategy: Clinton is continuing her early blitz of issue-oriented attack ads aimed at defining Lazio to the voters before he can define himself. The relatively unknown Long Island Congressman is running even with Clinton in the latest polls, despite the fact that many voters say they know little about him. Lazio portrays himself as a moderate Republican who is pro-choice and pro-gun control. Clinton is trying to paint him as more conservative on these issues. These ads are targeted to New York City voters who tend to be liberal and may not know Lazio's record on these issues.

The ads' emphasis on abortion reflects the Clinton camp's strategy to make abortion a key issue now that New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is out of the race. Whereas Giuliani and Clinton shared virtually identical views on abortion, Clinton is using Lazio's opposition to federally funded abortions and so-called "partial-birth abortions" to portray Lazio as not "truly" pro-choice. Moreover, in linking Lazio to Pat Buchanan, the ads appeal to Jewish and minority voters.

And the enthusiastic endorsement of Clinton by a quintessential New Yorker like Ed Koch is an effort to put the "carpetbagger" issue to rest. If the Bronx-born, three-term former mayor is voting for Clinton, then surely other native New Yorkers can "trust" him and give her a chance.