Candidate: Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes
Markets: Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, California, three national cable networks
Producer: William Eisner & Associates
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: [Forbes:] Politicians shouldn't raid the Social Security trust fund. They shouldn't be stealing from it, plundering it. That belongs to the American people. You know, if you put a pot of honey in a forest, bears are going to come along and put their paws in it. If you put a pot of money in Washington, politicians are going to come along and put their paws on it. And that's why we should phase in a new system where the bulk of your payroll tax, your Social Security tax goes directly into your own retirement account.
Analysis: In the earliest major ad campaign in presidential election history, the wealthy publisher is shot in black and white with a hand-held camera before long, gathered curtains, a setting not unlike the Oval Office. Forbes speaks in slow, serious tones, looking off camera, as string music swells, all designed to portray him as a potential chief executive.
Forbes accurately charges that the federal government has tapped the Social Security trust fund, which makes up much of the budget surplus, for new spending. But he doesn't spell out which of this spending -- some funds are going to the war in Yugoslavia -- he opposes. And Forbes doesn't say that the controversial proposal for Americans to invest their own retirement money could carry considerable risk if the funds are invested poorly or the stock market declines.
As part of his new media campaign, Forbes is running six other ads, some of which have a dreamy, offbeat quality. In one spot, Forbes says that "America is certainly doing well on paper these days" but that "something is still missing and that is time spent with our families." He gives no indication of how he would rectify that.