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During the next five months, President Clinton's re-election campaign will roll out what could be up to $36 million in pre-convention advertising. But Sen. Bob Dole, the likely Republican nominee, will be able to spend next to nothing.

Last week the Clinton/Gore committee ran its first TV commercial of the year, and Sen. Dole was fast approaching his primary spending limit.

The '96 Clinton/Gore advertising was a 30-second spot running in several upcoming primary states from Squier Knapp Ochs, Washington. The ad echoes some of the themes in President Clinton's budget speech.

Additionally, the Democratic Party furthered its advantage by expanding party advertising, with two new spots airing in remaining primary states. Those Squier-created spots feature the president's stands on welfare reform and domestic violence.

With the Democrats ready to unleash a barrage of ads, the Republican National Committee may have to fight back.


The party last week said it has a policy of not supporting any particular candidate until the nominee is selected. However, officials said they expect to do some issue advertising. GOP rivals said Sen. Dole was down to about $6 million before he started spending for the New York primary, which he won March 7.

GOP consultants were quick to dismiss any possible lasting effects from the extra cash available to Democrats through August.

The likelihood of party advertising, together with the number of strong GOP incumbents, will counter any fallout from the lack of Dole advertising, said Neal Rhodes, VP-political and public affairs for Wirthlin Worldwide, a Republican consultant and pollster in McLean, Va.


The compacting of the primary season this year may make the bitterness of those races history by the time the post-convention campaign kicks off, Mr. Rhodes said.

Democrats, however, were far more hopeful.

"I'm sure the Clinton camp is thrilled with the Republican street fighting," said David Altschiller, CEO-chief creative officer of Hill, Holliday/Altschiller, New York, and a Clinton backer. "If Buchanan persists and if he has a dramatic effect on the platform, it will hurt Dole a great deal."

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