Nader Unveils First TV Ad

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The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Francesca Gessner analyzes Ralph Nader's first TV ad, designed to give presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore a run for their money.

The Ad: Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader has unveiled the first TV ad of his campaign for president. The 30-second spot titled Priceless Truth mimics the current "Priceless" ad campaign airing for Mastercard. Nader's ad takes both Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and Democratic candidate Al Gore to task over campaign finance reform, and pushes for Nader's inclusion in the fall presidential debates. The ad is running in major metropolitan areas across the country, including California, New York and Washington DC.

Audio: Announcer: "Grilled tenderloin for fundraiser: $1,000 a plate. Campaign ads filled with half truths: $10 million. Promises to special interest groups: Over $10 billion. Finding out the truth: Priceless. There are some things money can't buy. Without Ralph Nader in the presidential debates, the truth will come in last. Find out how you can help. Go to Vote Ralph Nader for President."

Visual: The ad opens with footage of George W. Bush and Al Gore at glitzy fundraisers while "Hail to the Chief" plays in the background. Synchronized to the announcer's voice, the following text runs across the images of Bush and Gore: "Grilled tenderloin for fundraiser: $1,000 a plate," "Campaign ads filled with half truths: 10 million dollars," "Promises to special interest groups: Over $10 billion." The music screeches to a halt, the camera cuts to Ralph Nader hard at work at his paper-strewn desk with the text: "Finding out the truth: Priceless." The ad shifts into high gear with montage footage of Nader through the years, while fast-paced, techno music plays in the background. The ad ends with the placard: "Nader 2000."

Fact check: No inaccuracies.

The Strategy: The release of Ralph Nader's first TV ad is yet another signal that, unlike his fledging campaign of 1996, the consumer advocate is making a serious bid for the presidency in 2000. Nader has already visited all 50 states and plans to be on the ballot in at least 45 states come November. Nader is pushing hard to be allowed to participate in the fall presidential debates, arguing it is the only way to give Americans a real choice and, at the very least, "keep people from falling asleep as they watch the drab debate the dreary." The rules set by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates require a candidate register at least 15 percent support in national polls to participate in the debates. The most recent CBS News poll puts Nader at 5 percent, far below the 15 percent threshold, and Nader argues the criteria should be lowered to 5%. Reform Party candidate PaBuchanan agrees with Nader that the standard is unfair and has filed a compliant with the Federal Election Commission.

Nader's ads are being produced by Bill Hillsman, best known for helping propel former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura to victory in Minnesota in 1998. Hillsman's reputation for using humor to appeal to disenchanted voters and for winning on a shoe-string budget bodes well for Nader, given that he is trying to appeal to younger, disenfranchised voters and that his entire campaign budget is likely to be under $5 million.