from Tribune's Shared News Service subscribers, November 16, 1999

Forbes surprises foes with friendly ads
Also: People in glass houses throw stones, Bradley manipulates the media, and Bush gets caterpiller on his face



by Eric Lipton
11/16/99

WASHINGTON -- Steve Forbes unveiled his anxiously-awaited negative ad campaign Monday -- and it wasn't negative at all.

Forbes' opponents, most notably nervous GOP front runner George W. Bush have long feared that Forbes would unleash a series of negative ads, not unlike those that crippled Sen. Bob Dole in the 1996 election. News that Forbes was preparing spots fueled the fear.

However, the ads released Monday focus on Forbes' history and important issues to the candidate. One ad addresses his role as a financial publisher, another discusses Forbes' trademark falt tax.

"A conservative with innovative ideas and practical solutions. A man with character and direction. That man is Steve Forbes," the narrorator of one ad says.

Speaking to reporters in Spokane, Wash., Forbes said he felt the ads- didn't need to go negative. "They are about issues. My campaign is about issues and ideas. I think the people want to know what you stand for, what you believe, before the election," Forbes said.

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Glass houses: Forbes' decision not to go negative left some backers of George W. Bush with some expensive, on-air egg on their face. The Republican Leadership Council, a moderate group made up of a majority of Bush supporters, aired a $100,000 anti-Forbes ad campaign of their own.

The ad, which says Forbes hurt the GOP with his 1996 commercials, warns the millionaire publisher not to try them again. "Someone needs to tell that Steve Forbes that if he doesn't have anything nice to say -- don't say anything at all."

However, the ads -- which were made and aired before the group saw Forbes commercials, are not so nice themselves. Delivered by a scowling woman who claims to have liked Forbes in 1996, but changed her mind, the ads say his negative ads "hurt the Republican Party."

The DLC has not yet decided what to do in the face of Forbes surprising good behavior. However, New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Steve Duprey has asked them to pull the ads.

"In the forums and debates Mr. Forbes has appeared in, he has compared his plans with others in a very dignified and appropriate manner," Duprey said to the Manchester Union Leader. "It is wrong for the RLC to start warning candidates when they have done nothing to deserve it."

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Glass Cemeteries: Soon South Carolina television viewers will join their counterparts in Iowa and New Hampshire in hitting the TV remote mute button, as George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain will are preparing to launch ad blitzes in the early primary state -- crucial to each candidates election strategy.

McCain began airing his ad Tuesday -- a re-edit of an commercial that drew fire last week, after it was revealed he used footage taken from Arlington Cemetery. The Army said McCain did not seem permission for the filming, and since they ban all partisan activity on military installations, permission would have been denied. McCain apologized and reshot the commercial.

GOP front-runner George W. Bush also began running his military-focused South Carolina ads on Tuesday. "Today we live in a world of terror and madmen and missiles," Bush says in the spot. The ads are perceived to be a response both to McCain's rise in the polls, and Bush's foreign policy missteps in recent weeks.

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Glass chameleon: Also planning to unveil his first ads of the campaign on Tuesday was former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley. While he didn't shoot his in any national landmarks, the ads of self-styled outsider Bradley has taken some criticism after it came to light that he worked on them for over a year with Madison Avenue advertising executives.

Bradley is "a typical politician," according to Gore spokeman Chris Lehane to The Associated Press, criticizing Bradley of exactly what Gore has been constantly criticized of -- being a "typical politician" who repeatedly redefines and redesigns himself in the image most appealing to voters.

"Yeah, precisely. That was the whole strategy. We're manipulating all of you just beautifully," Bradley joked to reporters.

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"He is the leader for our time."
-- Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich endorsing Bradley

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Grass(root) houses: Bradley wasn't the only one getting an endorsement on Monday. Gary Bauer edged out Steve Forbes and Allen Keyes to get the endorsement of the California Republican Assembly, a major conservative grassroots group.

Bauer's victory came after a well-financed challenge by Steve Forbes for the endorsement. And the volunteer power of the CRA will be valuable to the cash-starved candidate. "That's worth a couple of million dollars that someone else is going to have to spend," said Bauer aide John Courtney to The Associated Press.

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Literary corner, part 1: Wednesday will mark the release of George W. Bush's autobiography, "A Charge to Keep," that offers no surprises, but a chance for Bush to tell his story from his own perspective and "never allow others to define me," Bush writes.

Some of Bush's self-definition included explaining why he gave up drinking: "I just drank too much and woke up with a hangover;" why he's reluctant to answer any questions about his past: " I have made mistakes, and I have learned from them;" and his party-boy image: " My friends laugh about the image of me as a party animal, an image they think is vastly overblown." Bush wrote.

Bush also wrote about other issues that have plagued his campaign. On his experience in the Texas Air National Guard, saying despite his stateside station, he learned "the lesson of Vietnam." In another chapter Bush said the 1997 execution of Carla Faye Tucker was "the longest 20 minutes of my tenure as governor." In an interview with Talk Magazine last summer, Bush was said to have mocked Tucker and her clemency pleas.

The book was co-authored by Bush press secretary Karen Hughes after the original ghostwriter, Houston Chronicle Mickey Herksowitz dropped out in October, with complaints of being unable to figure out what Bush's stance on the issues for the issues-focused autobiography.

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Literary corner, part 2: Apparently book titles now joins foreign leaders as things presidential aspirant George W. Bush has problems remembering.

Bush, along with the nation's 49 other governors was asked by the Pizza Hut -- as part of a nation-wide literacy campaign -- what his favorite books were as a child. Bush cited "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," and "Sarah's Flag for Texas" among 7 total as his personal favorites.

However, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" was published in 1969, the same year Bush graduated from Yale. And "Sarah's Flag for Texas" was published in 1993, a year before Bush became governor of that same Texan flag.

In total 4 of Bush's 7 choices, which also included "James and the Giant Peach," (1961) and "Tuck Everlasting (1971) were published after he was out of the picture book phase.

Bush's aides blamed the mistake on a misunderstanding of the question. ``The question we asked governors was what was their favorite childhood book -- that is, what was your favorite book when you were growing up?'' said Boris Weinstein, spokesman for Pizza Hut's literacy effort to the San Francisco Chronicle. ``Maybe my question was misleading,'' Weinstein said. ``I apologize for that.''

Still it was better than last August when at after a literacy speech Bush was asked by a student in South Carolina the same question can't remember any specific books,'' he said.

Bush wasn't the only chronologically challenged U.S. governor. Naming Dr. Seuss' ``Oh, the Places You'll Go,'' and ``Stellaluna,'' as his favorites constituted a similar gaffe. Both were published in the 90s.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Jesse Ventura cited the collected westerns by Louis L'Amour as his favorites.

Questions? Comments? A copy of "Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs," which was my favorite book? Email 'em to scuttlebutt@tribune.com