Commentary by Bob Garfield

A LOOK AT THE LATEST TV POLITICAL ADS

Blistering Critiques of Presidential Wanna-bes' Marketing Efforts

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As the campaign season kicks into high gear, AdAge.com columnist Bob Garfield will be taking an ongoing look at the latest political ads. Here's Garfield's take on the first crop of TV messages from would-be presidents:

Howard Dean
OK, we get it. Dean is the anti-candidate. Anti-slick. Anti-packaged. But unprimped is one thing and uninterested

Howard Dean: All the passion of a man changing the furnace filter.
Dick Gephardt: This is a fabulous pitch for a Rotary scholarship. But not for the presidency.
John Kerry: His war record is little relevant to the central Democrat-nomination question of who can beat George Bush.
is quite another. The famously irritable Dean seems annoyed that he has to take 30 seconds away from misrepresenting his record (his agent-provocateur positioning is belied by his centrist history) to read aloud from a TelePrompTer -- which clearly, unconvincingly, he is.

"I want a foreign policy consistent with American values," he mouths, nonsensically stressing "American." Versus what? Bush's Norwegian values? Moments later Dean says, "Together we can take our country back," with all the passion of a man changing the furnace filter. Wake this guy up. There's a campaign on.

Dick Gephardt
Vote for me because 10 years ago I helped get an economic-stimulus package passed. Vote for me because I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, unlike some people I could mention. Vote for me because my dad was a humble milkman.

This is a fabulous pitch for a Rotary scholarship. But not for the presidency. Pack it up, congressman. It's over.

John Kerry
"I believe the courage of Americans can change this country," Kerry hollers to a skimpy Iowa crowd. Hold that thought. Courage will be a theme in his campaign, which will bludgeon Iowa and New Hampshire with news of his Vietnam War heroism. Good for him, and OK for a start.

But his war record is little relevant to the central Democrat-nomination question of who can beat George Bush. Kerry, a satisfactory orator, must persuade Democrats he has the stuff to lead. Cliches about evil special interests -- especially from this creature of the Beltway -- simply will not do.

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