I was struck by Lloyd Grove's article "Attack Ads: Undesirable but Effective" {news story, Feb. 25}. The subtitle read: "Failure to Answer Negative Commercials Seen as Factor in Losses." I, for one, am tired of Madison Avenue high-tech manipulations, and I think voters want to know what the presidential candidates intend to do for this country. It's time for straight talk, not TV media ploys.

As the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. primaries approach, the last thing I want to hear from the Democrats is bickering and negative one-upmanship -- or, rather, "one-downmanship." I want to hear them debate the issues. I want to know specifics: what they propose to do about the deficit, drug abuse, the homeless and developing rational foreign, environmental, energy and education policies -- not to mention the many other problems facing our nation and the world. Media gimmicks will not solve real problems.

Mr. Grove quotes Democratic National Committee Chairman Paul Kirk Jr. as pleading with "the party's presidential candidates to resist television scriptwriters," among others, who would have them attack their rivals. I agree and would add that media-spot rhetoric in its essence is an insult to our democratic values and the importance of free exchange of information.

Lately, it has occurred to me that were it not for the televised debates, candidates from either party would never be called upon to address the real issues. And even with the debates, we are lucky if the moderator and the format can keep them discussing the issues and away from posturing. Debates, at least, provide live coverage, and there are no retakes. If we could not watch the debates, where would we be?

I think the Democrats (and the Republicans) should forget about dazzling the public with Madison Avenue high tech and start leveling with the people they expect to vote for them. The next time a 30-second spot attempts to convince me of a candidate's one-upmanship or one-downmanship, I will remember the Madison Avenue spot that once promised us it was morning in America.

Let's hope the local TV stations carry the debates and not just the 30- second spots, so we can base our decisions on real people responding to real issues, without retakes. No more "It's morning in America," please.



The writer is a Democratic candidate for Montgomery County delegate.