Candidate: President Bush

Images: A woman, two couples and a man looking at computer screens that detail Bush's plan and the attack on John F. Kerry's plan.

Time: 30 seconds

Audio: On health care, President Bush and our leaders in Congress have a practical plan: Allow small businesses to join together to get lower insurance rates big companies get. Stop frivolous lawsuits against doctors. Health coverage you can take with you.

The liberals in Congress and Kerry's plan: Washington bureaucrats in control. A government-run health care plan. $1.5 trillion price tag. Big government in charge. Not you. Not your doctor.

Analysis: The ad relies on a study by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute in charging that Kerry's health plan would cost more than twice as much as the senator's campaign has estimated. But the same study says that while Kerry's plan would provide insurance to 27.3 million Americans now lacking coverage, the Bush proposal would cover only 6.7 million. Kerry's approach is more expensive by his own accounting, but far more ambitious.

The Kerry camp, which relies on a cost estimate by an academic who was an official in the Clinton administration, challenges AEI's methodology and says its plan would cost $653 billion over 10 years. Bush says his would cost $128 billion.

The ad accurately describes the president's proposals, but it is not clear how broad an impact small-business pools, malpractice reform and individual health savings accounts would have.

There is no evidence that the Kerry blueprint is a "government-run" plan or would change the doctor-patient relationship. The plan would build on the existing system, and no one would be required to participate. Companies could choose to receive federal funding for catastrophic health costs if they agreed to certain rules, and individuals could choose to buy from a new, government-defined benefit plan, but from private companies. Federal funding for children on Medicaid would increase, but only if states chose to participate. And Kerry's plan is independent of any "liberals" in Congress.

This is the second straight ad in which Bush has tried to neutralize Kerry's advantage on the traditionally Democratic issue.

-- Howard Kurtz

Video of this ad can be found at