Candidates: Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio
The Ads: New York Senate candidates Hillary Clinton and Long Island GOP Congressman Rick Lazio have exchanged their first round of negative TV ads. Clinton set off the ad wars last Friday, releasing two ads - " News Update: HMOs" and "News Update: Hate Crimes" - criticizing Lazio's stance on HMO reform and hate crimes. Lazio responded Monday with his own ad titled "Guess What," charging that Clinton's commercials are "simply untrue." All three ads are running statewide in New York.
Clinton Ad: News Update: HMOssize>color>
Audio: Announcer: "News Update. The Senate just voted to kill the Patients' Bill of Rights...by two votes. Hillary supports it. In the House, Rick Lazio voted against the bill...siding with the Republican leadership. 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 type-writer taps in synch with the words, while a male announcer's voice reads the text. A small picture of Hillary Clinton and her logo appears in the corner of the screen at the ad's conclusion.
Fact check: Lazio voted with the House Republican Leadership against the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act of 1999 that would have allowed patients to sue their HMOS for damages in state court. Instead, Lazio supported two Republican versions of the Patients' Bill of Rights that would have capped lawsuit damages for HMOs and provided tax deductions for those who pay more than 50% of their own health care premiums. Clinton says she supports a "real" Patients Bill of Rights that would guarantee access to specialists and emergency rooms and allow patients to sue their HMOs. Lazio says Clinton's health care plan would encourage "unlimited lawsuits with unlimited damages" and would not exempt employers from liability.
Clinton Ad: News Update: Hate Crimessize>color>
Audio: Announcer: "The State Senate just passed tougher penalties for hate crimes. Hillary fought for the bill. Rick Lazio was opposed. But five days after it passed, he flip-flopped. The Post called it an "about-face." 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 type-writer taps in synch with the words, while a male announcer's voice reads the text. A small picture of Hillary Clinton and her logo appears in the corner of the screen at thad's conclusion.
Fact check: When the NY State Senate passed its first hate crimes bill on June 7th, Lazio initially opposed it. One week later on June 12th, Lazio switched and supported the bill. Lazio's campaign explains that he supports using hate crimes evidence in the sentencing phase of a trial instead of creating a new series of laws, but that he also believes some legislation is better than none and that's why he eventually supported the New York law.
Lazio Ad: Guess Whatsize>color>
Audio: Rick Lazio: "I've been in the Senate campaign for about a month now, and guess what? Hillary Clinton has already started running attack ads designed to fool you about me. Her ads are simply untrue. I voted for a Patient's Bill of Rights and I oppose hate crimes. So why is she doing this? Because it's a lot easier for Mrs. Clinton to attack me than to name a single thing she has ever done for New York. So Mrs. Clinton, you can run the negative campaign about tearing people down. I'm going to run a campaign about building New York up."
Visual: The 30-second ad features Congressman Lazio speaking directly to the camera, seated in a library-like environment.
Fact check: Mrs. Clinton's charge was not that Lazio does not oppose hate crimes but rather that Lazio flip-flopped on legislation calling for stiffer penalties - which he did. See above regarding Patient's Bill of Rights.
The Strategy: The first candidate in the NY Senate race to air negative ads, Hillary Clinton is trying to define the relatively unknown Republican Congressman from Long Island while voters still know little about him. Though negative, the fact that Clinton's ads focus on Lazio's voting record can be seen as in step with Clinton's pledge to wage a campaign of "issues not personalities." Her second ad's attention to hate crimes targets minority and Jewish voters who will be in key in this neck-and-neck race.
Meanwhile, Lazio's ad seeks to portray Clinton as an attacker who can't help but wage a negative campaign. In saying it's easier for Clinton to attack rather than "name a single thing she has ever done for New York," Lazio reminds voters both that Clinton is not a native New Yorker and that she has no voting record of her own. Moreover, the ad aims to give Lazio the moral high-ground by painting him as the victim of false charges.