It is not just the presidential candidates filling up the New Hampshire airwaves. The Sierra Club today will begin running a pair of "issue ads" over some of those same airwaves criticizing Texas Gov. George W. Bush's environmental record.
The spots (one television, one radio) accuse the GOP presidential frontrunner of heading the state that "leads the nation in air and toxic pollution" and say that, under Bush, smog-alert days in Texas have gone up and Houston has become "the American city with the dirtiest air."
The ads will run through the end of the week on several New Hampshire stations, including WMUR, host of the first GOP debate featuring Bush this Thursday. The ads will not, however, run on any of the Boston TV stations that reach many viewers in southern New Hampshire.
Sierra Club political director Dan Weiss would not say exactly how much the ads would cost, describing the total as in the "tens of thousands of dollars." He said the ads were targeted at "high information" New Hampshire voters who may tune in to the presidential race more closely this week as the debate approaches.
Environmental activists have criticized Bush for backing a bill in the Texas legislature last month that allowed older industrial plants to choose whether to meet certain toxic emission targets set by the state. Bush opposed an alternative bill backed by environmentalists that would have made the emissions standards mandatory.
The Bush campaign dismissed the ads yesterday, saying the Sierra Club "ought to be praising" Bush's environmental record and contending that air pollution has gone down 10 percent since he took over. Environmentalists dispute that number and say that even if true, it is below the national average for pollution reduction.
The Race for Federal Matching Funds
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley's campaign advisers say claims by Vice President Gore's campaign that the vice president will have a huge advantage in federal matching funds is disinformation.
Bradley's plan to file a new submission to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week, a campaign spokesman said yesterday, should qualify the former New Jersey senator for another $2.4 million in matching funds.
Added to the $5.8 million in earlier matching-fund submissions, that will bring Bradley's estimated total to more than $8.2 million, with another submission coming at the end of this month. The government matches the first $250 in individual contributions to presidential candidates.
Gore's campaign last week said the vice president has qualified for about $9 million in matching funds. Earlier, Gore said his advantage in matching funds was the secret weapon to ensure that he would have more money than Bradley beginning in January, even though he spent so heavily that Bradley had more cash on hand at the end of the third quarter.
"The Gore campaign had been trying to play up that they'll have this overwhelming advantage in matching funds," a Bradley staffer said. "If you look at the numbers you see that they had a lot early, but when it's all said and done, we're going to be very, very close."
Republican Senators Back Bush
Two more senators have endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign, giving him the support of a majority of the upper chamber's 55 Republican members.
Sens. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island endorsed Bush yesterday, becoming the 28th and 29th to do so. The Bush campaign has been eager to demonstrate its support on Capitol Hill because one of the Senate's own, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, is emerging as Bush's main rival for the GOP nomination. Four senators have endorsed McCain.
Staff writers Dan Balz and Terry M. Neal contributed to this report.