Another in a series evaluating the accuracy of political advertising.
Candidate: George W. Bush
Markets: Iowa, New Hampshire
Time: 30 seconds
Producer: Maverick Media
Audio: He's been hailed as the Republican Party's best hope to win the White House. As governor, he signed the two largest tax cuts in Texas history. He reduced the growth of state government spending to the lowest in 40 years. He improved public schools by restoring local control, raising standards and returning to basics. He cut welfare rolls in half, reduced junk lawsuits and cut juvenile crime 38 percent. George W. Bush. A compassionate conservative leader. A fresh start for America.
Analysis: Mixing rapid-fire footage of the governor shaking hands, posing with students and touring a boot camp, this ad begins by playing up Bush's big lead in the polls. And it ends with Bush hugging his wife Laura as an announcer promises "a fresh start for America."
While Bush signed $3 billion in Texas tax cuts, the ad doesn't mention that he also sought to raise the state sales tax and impose a new business tax, an approach rejected by the legislature. And his property tax cut never reached many homeowners because local authorities raised assessments. The ad depicts Bush as cracking down on spending, but he boosted the two-year state budget from $72.8 billion to $98.1 billion. Much of the increase went to education, but Texas still ranks 40th in per capita spending on public schools.
The welfare and crime claims are accurate. But what Bush describes as curtailing "junk lawsuits" was a tort reform measure sought by corporate supporters that limits the ability of consumers to recover damages from businesses over such matters as injuries and defective products.