RNC Gets <i>Really</i> Nasty

The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Jane Ruvelson checks out the latest Republican National Committee (RNC) ad attacking Al Gore's veracity by focusing on the Buddhist temple fund-raiser, and his one-time claim to have invented the Internet.

The Ad:
The newest addition to the RNC's advertising arsenal is Really, a 30-second spot that takes aim at the vice president's veracity. On Saturday, the ad will go up in 17 battleground states: Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland (with a television market that reaches into Delaware), Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The RNC has again labeled their media buy "substantial."

Audio:
Woman (voice over): "There's Al Gore... reinventing himself on television again. Like I'm not going to notice. Who's he gonna be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple? Or the one who promises campaign finance reform? Really. Al Gore ... claiming credit for things he didn't even do.
Gore: "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
Woman (voice over): "Yeah, and I invented the remote control, too. Another round of this and I'll sell my television."

Visual:
Really opens with the view of a kitchen with Al Gore playing on the television set. Next, a TV set with a scene from the Democrat's 1996 fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple - Al Gore mixing with the monks. Then, a set showing Gore's 2000 convention address followed by a snippet from a Gore interview. Finally, back to the TV in the kitchen.

Fact Check:
No inaccuracies, however, Gore has claimed he didn't know that the Buddhist temple event was a fund-raiser, though he admits he knew it was "finance-related."

The Strategy:
Bush and the Republicans have long pegged Gore as the candidate who is always reinventing himself. And while they may consider this attack on Gore's veracity "tongue in cheek," voters may not find the issue quite so funny.

Really airs at a time when Gore is catching up in the polls and moving ahead in some battleground states. This may explain why the RNC is willing to air such an obviously negative ad, especially at a time when the political waters are usually calm. Airing of Really comes just over a week after the Republicans canceled the run of another attack ad which attempted to highlight Gore's lack of credibility by hinted at Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. When Bush and others on his campaign objected to the use of the old and undated interview, and focus groups reacted negatively to the spot, the RNC told television stations to cancel the ad's run.

The Democrats, who have until now matched the Republicans' ad buys, had plans to release a commercial focuing on Bush's record on assisting Texas children who qualify for Medicaid. After receiving word of the negativity of the RNC's ad, however, the Democratic National Committee canceled its ad launch in an attempt to "take the high road." They hoped that by abstaining from the ad war, they'd help the public focus on the Republican attack. However, the DNC continues to run a negative spot about Bush's prescription drug plans.