AD WATCH | Evaluating the accuracy of political advertising
Gephardt Rips Dean Remarks
Friday, January 16, 2004; Page A08
Candidate: Richard A. Gephardt
Producer: Morris & Carrick
Time: 30 seconds
Images: Howard Dean speaking wordlessly as his offending statements fill the screen, punctuated by ominous sound effects; Gephardt surrounded by supporters and a prominent red construction helmet.
Audio: [Narrator:] How much do you really know about Howard Dean? Did you know Howard Dean called Medicare "one of the worst federal programs ever"? Did you know he supported the Republican plan to cut Medicare by $270 billion? And did you know Howard Dean supported cutting Social Security retirement benefits to balance the budget? [Gephardt:] I will be a president who will fight to protect Medicare and Social Security.
Analysis: What the ad obscures is that the Dean quotes are at least nine years old and do not reflect the positions he holds today. When Dean, a physician, called Medicare "one of the worst federal programs" in 1993, he was referring to the way the government ran it. Dean was quoted by a Vermont newspaper in 1995 as saying he could support GOP efforts to "reduce the Medicare growth rate," but the $270 billion figure was not mentioned. Dean did say on CNN in 1995 "we need. . . to increase the retirement age" and that "there will be cuts and losses of some benefits" in Social Security, but has since changed his stance. Dean spokesman Jay Carson said Gephardt is resorting to "the same old negative attack politics the American people are tired of, pulling decade-old quotes and putting them in a distorted light."
Gephardt is attempting to exploit doubts about a previously obscure Vermont governor-what does he really believe?-and galvanize older, working-class voters who depend on federal health and retirement programs. The congressman is also firing back after Dean's negative ad this week attacking Gephardt for backing the Iraq war.
- Howard Kurtz
© 2004 The Washington Post Company