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Mrs. Tsongas Backs Bradley

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the campaign commercials of the presidential hopefuls. Steve Chaggaris analyzes the latest effort of Democrat Bill Bradley.


The Ad: The Bill Bradley for President campaign has launched a new 30-second ad in New Hampshire. The spot features Niki Tsongas, widow of 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, expressing her disappointment that Bradley's record is being distorted.

Audio: "Hello, I'm Niki Tsongas. Like my husband Paul, Bill Bradley is a passionate supporter of working people, and he too is challenging us with a bold vision for America. But what disappoints me now is - just as with Paul - Bill's record is being distorted. But we don't have to listen to the distortions. On February 1, let's tell the rest of the nation it's time for truth, it's time for courage, it's time for Bill Bradley. Thank you."

Video: The words, "Mrs. Paul Tsongas for Bill Bradley," appear on the screen. Mrs. Tsongas is seated in a living room with a snowy scene in the window behind her. She speaks directly to the camera. The ad ends with the words, "It Can Happen. Bill Bradley for President," on the screen.

Fact Check: No inaccuracies.

Strategy: Throughout this campaign, Bradley has been extremely reluctant to attack his opponent, Vice President Al Gore. He has instead relied on simple retorts, reciting what he claims are inaccuracies in Gore's criticisms of his record. Bradley continues this trend by recruiting the widow of 1992 Democratic candidate Paul Tsongas.

Tsongas, who served for 10 years as a congressman and senator from neighboring Massachusetts, won the New Hampshire primary in 1992. Mrs. Tsongas laments how Bradley's record is being distorted, drawing an implicit parallel to the way her husband was attacked by Bill Clinton during the 1992 primaries.

This new ad reflects a dual strategy: reminding New Hampshire voters of a popular presidential underdog, while at the same time presenting Bradley as a victim of negative campaigning. The irony of the ad is that in recent days, Bradley's health issues and nondisclosure of them have been compared to Tsongas' battle with cancer before his 1992 campaign.

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