A historic glimpse of John F. Kennedy addressing Congress in the year of his assassination provides the highlight of a new made-for-television film produced here by a small independent company known as Palisades Communications.
The 25-minute film is neither a documentary nor a tribute commissioned by the Democratic National Committee. Instead, it's an unusual political film done for the Republican National Committee by Kenneth Rietz, who directed the young voters portion of Richard M. Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign.
The film is devoted entirely to singing the glories of an across-the-board tax cut as proposed by the Republican minority in Congress. Since it was made, President Carter has made his own tax cut proposal.
In addition to the footage of Kennedy, the Republican film features interviews of taxpayers across the country who profess various degrees of fear and loathing toward high taxes, plus commentary from Republican National Chairman William Brock and GOP Reps. Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan and Barber B. Conable Jr. and Jack Kemp of New York.
But the emotional highlight is a film clip, shown in news real style, from Kennedy's 1963 State of the Union address.The clip shows the late president receiving the plaudits of Congress for proposing a $10 billion tax cut, which Kennedy said would "increase the purchasing power of American families and business enterprises in every tax bracket, with the greatest increase going to our low-income citizens."
"And he was right," Brock says, when the film clip is over. Brock goes on to denounce the "naysayers in those days" who said the tax cut would be economically harmful, without bothering to point out that many of the "naysayers" were Republicans.
Kennedy gets five mentions in the GOP film, nearly as many as the word "Republican." This is no accident.
"What we tried to do with the film is to produce something that would appeal to more than the 18 percent who are Republicans." Rietz said." It always seems to me that Republicans spend too much time appealing to themselves. The use of the Kennedy material gives the film a bipartisan feeling."
Rietz, assisted by New York political consultant Tully Plesser, produced the film for a fee of $50,000. Pete Teeley, director of communications for the Republican National Committee, says that approximately $40,000 will be spent testing the film in a dozen regional markets, most of them in small communities where a pivotal congressional election is coming up. There is also talk that Kemp, who appears in a forceful segment of the film, may spearhead a fund-raising drive aimed at putting the film on national television.
An early testing of the film in an upstate New York area showed a significant increase in the number of voters who thought that Republicans were best able to deal with tax issues, according to Teeley.