Two Days After Debate, Little Has Changed

Two days after their face off, Al Gore and George W. Bush are keeping a low profile. But their television ads are speaking for them.

By Elizabeth Wilner DANVILLE, Ky., Oct. 5 While the vice-presidential candidates gear up for their only

debate of the campaign here tonight, the presidential candidates are staying out of the spotlight.

Forty-eight hours after the first presidential debate, the macro consensus is that it changed nothing.

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush rolls out a new TV ad today focusing on trust and Democratic rival Al Gore’s support of big government — marrying the two biggest themes the Republicans plan to push through Election Day.

Team Bush’s new ad represents their latest effort to use Gore’s policy proposals to subtly question his character. They say Bush’s new 60-second TV ad, titled “Trust,” will run in 16 states.

The spot features Bush talking to the camera, set to music: “I believe we need to encourage personal responsibility so people are accountable for their actions and I believe in a government that is responsible to the people. That’s the difference between my opponent and me: he trusts government. I trust you.”

Gore is going on the air in his home state of Tennessee (a sign of weakness from Team Gore). There are reports that West Virginia will get new Democratic ads and Nevada new Republican spots, both of which would be defensive moves. And a New York Times report suggests the Republicans are stepping up their media buying in California.

Where Are They Now?

Both presidential candidates keep stumping in key states and prepare to watch their running mates go at it tonight.

In Michigan this morning, Bush holds a closed meeting with Arab-American leaders, then introduces new details in his proposal for filtering adult content on the Internet. He then heads off to Wisconsin and Iowa, where he plans to watch the debate in Cedar Rapids. Gore, also in Michigan, plans to continue carping on Bush’s tax-cut plan before heading to Florida, where he will watch the debate at a Democratic Party bash in Orlando.

On the investigation into pilfered Bush debate prep material that ended up in the hands of a Gore adviser, the Dallas Morning News reports that the employment history of Maverick Media aide Yvette Lozano, an FBI suspect in the case, is more checkered than was first suggested. According to the paper, she “was asked to leave a series of jobs for poor performance, including some under suspicion that she lied or covered up work she failed to do.”

Small Town Living

Whereas Tuesday night’s debate was cast as a potentially earth-shattering event, tonight’s little forum in Kentucky is getting less attention, largely because vice-presidential debates don’t have a history of affecting the outcome of the race. But also because, hey, it’s in a small town in Kentucky.

(It does, however, have its charms. Among those welcoming the debaters onto the stage will be 10-year-old Michael Ward, who was a poster child in Danville’s efforts to “keep its debate” back when Bush’s unilateral plans threatened to cancel tonight’s event.)

CNN’s Bernard Shaw will moderate the 90-minute forum at Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts in Danville. The two running mates and Shaw will be seated around a table at the center of the stage. Otherwise, the format will be the same as that of the presidential debate: the candidates will have two minutes to respond to Shaw’s questions and one minute to rebut, plus two minutes for closing statements

During the debate, the Sierra Club plans to highlight the environmental track records of both Lieberman (good) and Cheney (bad on ANWR, bad on clean air, bad on clean water). Volunteers dressed in toxic waste drum costumes will chant, carry signs reading “Clean Up Texas,” and distribute voter guides outside the debate hall.

As a side note, former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is appearing in pro-gun safety TV ads being aired by a new interest group called Americans for Gun Safety, which advocates gun safety rather than eliminating guns altogether. The ads will run in Colorado and Oregon, both of which have initiatives on the November ballot that would require background checks for sales of guns at gun shows.

Third Watch

ABCNEWS’ Rebecca Bershadker reports that Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader’s running mate Winona LaDuke will be in Danville today. LaDuke, a 1982 graduate of Harvard who currently lives on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, will speak to supporters who want to open the debates to the third-party candidates. The Nader camp said it was “entirely possible” that LaDuke will try and enter this debate the same way Nader did on Tuesday.

Bershadker reports that Nader and his campaign, still fuming over his exclusion from the debate site Tuesday night, are calling for an end to the presidential debate commission. At a rally in Hartford, Conn. Wednesday, Nader said, “This is a political exclusion. They dismissed me for political reasons, not because I was disruptive. I’m never disruptive.”

Nader also criticized fellow Connecticut native Lieberman, calling him a “political sorcerer.”

Empire Stakes

A New York Daily News analysis shows that this race is on track to cost over $100 million before it’s over.

ABCNEWS’ Eileen Murphy reports that dozens of AIDS activists demonstrated simultaneously Wednesday at the New York Senate campaign offices of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio. No injuries were reported, but some were arrested after chaining themselves to filing cabinets to protest the lack of attention the candidates are paying to AIDS.

ABCNEWS’ Stephen Yesner reports that the Lazio campaign clearly is worrying that the Long Island congressman’s missed votes are becoming more of an issue. Before Lazio’s one public event on Wednesday, a spokesman for the state Democrats passed out packets to reporters detailing all 115 votes Lazio has missed this year.

Paper Trail

The Washington Times reports on Gore’s appearance on Tom Joyner’s radio show Wednesday, in which Joyner chided Gore for not raising issues important to blacks in the Tuesday night debate, with Gore shifting the blame to Lehrer and his questioning.

The Wall Street Journal runs quotes from a few of the “wealthiest one percent,” who clearly don’t appreciate Gore’s attacks.

In an interview with the New York Times, Gore follows up on his exchanges with Bush over military readiness from Tuesday night.

Roll Call reports on House Republicans’ efforts to woo conservative Democratic colleagues in case their majority shrinks further on Election Day.

The New York Times reports on the drug industry’s efforts to shift some of the blame for high drug prices onto pharmacies, and at the industry’s lengthy tentacles amongst drug-price grassroots organizations in general.