WILSON FOLLOWS GOP PACK WITH SLIGHTLY BETTER SELL

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Advertiser: Pete Wilson for President

Agency: Sipple Strategic Communications, Washington

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

There are two alleged Washington "outsiders" with gubernatorial credentials running for the GOP presidential nomination. One is Lamar Alexander, former governor of Tennessee, a firm believer in individual responsibility and a man with an extremely low profile.

The other is California Gov. Pete Wilson, a firm believer in individual responsibility and a man with an extremely low profile.

To build his own recognition factor, Alexander began advertising in New Hampshire in about 1966 with ads setting forth a political philosophy largely indistinguishable from the rest of the GOP pack. And now, with the same notion, the same philosophy and slightly better advertising, here comes Mr. Wilson.

"I'm guided by four fundamental principles," he says to end one spot. "Individuals must be responsible and accountable for their actions. Individuals should be rewarded on the basis of merit. Government should be limited to safeguard freedom and opportunity. And we should value family as the foundation of our society."

Well, that's novel.

What this candidate does articulate beyond the now-familiar Angry White Man's Manifesto, however, is how his bold gubernatorial accomplishments are a template for the activist Wilson presidency: cracking down on illegal immigration, signing a three-strikes law, outlawing affirmative action in state hiring, cutting the state's budget. "The power of ideas, and the courage to make them happen," says the voice-over.

There is nothing eyebrow-raising here, but he has clearly defined Pete Wilson, the political product. Comes next the real challenge: explaining to New Hampshire Republicans why they might want to buy.

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