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Advertiser: Dole for President

Agency: Stuart Stevens Group, Alexandria, Va.

Rating: 1 star

Campaigning for the Republican nomination as if there were no competition within his own party, Sen. Robert Dole uses his first TV ad to target the Clinton administration-but it isn't just the president who is dumped on. The real victims are:

a) Dole's colleagues in the House of Representatives, and b) the truth.

"From day one," declares the overheated voice-over, in a tense you might call the present recapitulative, "Bill Clinton shocks America with his liberal agenda: the largest tax increase in history, huge spending increases, government run healthcare.

"Bob Dole leads the fight against the Clinton Agenda. Dole rallies the nation, and Congress passes historic conservative reforms: true middle-class tax cuts, the first balanced-budget plan in a generation and real welfare reform putting people back to work."

Then we see Dole himself, at a campaign rally, looking forceful and dynamic. "I am not afraid to lead," he tells enthusiastic supporters, "and I know the way."

He certainly knows the way to shade the truth. Clinton's hard luck healthcare plan, for instance, envisioned an essentially private-sector infrastructure, not a governmental one. And Clinton cut federal employment; spending increases were solely a function of debt service and entitlements that are beyond executive control.

What's shocking here, however, is how Dole takes credit for the results of a Republican revolution that he has only lately embraced. Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey in the House were the true revolutionaries. In the Senate, such True Believers as Dole's opponent Phil Gramm also have a claim. And all of them-along with many GOP voters-will seethe to see a man they regard as part of the problem present himself as a prophet for the solution.

And this is the front-runner. We can only shudder to think what will become of the truth once the lagging and desperate get it in their flailing, clutching hands.

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