BEHIND IN POLLS, BUSH LAUNCHES AD BLITZ

Largest Ad Effort Ever Done This Early by Incumbent President

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- In the largest advertising effort ever launched by an incumbent president this early in an election year campaign, the Bush-Cheney '04
President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in one of the new ads.
marketing team will tomorrow kick off a $100 million TV blitz.

The move comes as some of the latest national polls show President George Bush trailing Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry by several points.

Bush trailing Kerry
Meanwhile, the Bush campaign is also acknowledging that despite the new advertising offensive, it still expects its candidate to remain behind or even with the Democratic challenger in the polls until the GOP convention in August.

Matthew Dowd, the campaign's chief strategist, said the new ads reflect a campaign attempt to counter attacks by Democrats during the primary. "This is the beginning stage of a conversation that will last eight months," he said.

Three ads break tomorrow (one in English and Spanish) on major cable networks nationally and in spot market buys in nearly 20 states. One ad pins the blame of some of the country's economic woes on the previous Democratic administration.

Blames Democrats
Unveiling the ads today, Bush-Cheney '04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman said the reference to the previous Democratic administration is fair because it reflects challenges the president faced.

While refusing to disclose details of the media buy or how long the ads would run, Mr. Mehlman said they weren't just targeted to Republicans. "We are trying to communicate to as broad a spectrum of people as we can in every walk of life," he said.

One ad makes the claim that when President Bush came into office, he inherited "an economy in recession [and] a stock market in decline and a dot-com boom gone bust. " The ad's theme is "steady leadership in times of change" and suggests President Bush rose to the challenge. That ad and others also picture a scene from the Sept. 11 attacks.

'Optimism and humanity
Mark McKinnon, the former Democrat who heads Maverick Media, the Bush campaign's ad team, said the spots were intended to reflect "the optimism and humanity which is an important part of who [President Bush] is." The spot done in both English and Spanish features excerpts of an unscripted conversation Mr. McKinnon said he had with the president and Laura Bush at the White House.

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