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.)

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