"I Love New York" and "Trust Me" were produced for the Hillary Clinton campaign by "Team Hillary," a combined effort of Mandy Grunwald, Devito/Verdi, and Mark Penn. Click for transcripts of the ads.
From: Jacob Weisberg
To: William Saletan
Right after the negative ads we discussed earlier this week, Hillary Clinton put up this pair of spots featuring Ed Koch as her urban assault vehicle. They strike me as faintly hilarious in the vein of an exhibition they had at the Jewish Museum a few years ago called "Too Jewish?" I imagine Hillary's team in the studio cutting this ad and asking each other that question. And the inevitable answer: Not for the Upper West Side!
Koch is being a bit unfair on at least a couple of these issues. Lazio opposes partial-birth abortions, which calls his pro-choice absolutism into question. But Koch doesn't mention that. Instead he says Lazio is "not really pro-choice because he won't support funding abortion for poor women, which I support and Hillary supports." It seems to me that someone who thinks abortion should be legal but that taxpayers who think it's murder shouldn't have to pay for it can legitimately call himself pro-choice. Lazio has a pretty good record on gun control, despite the fact that he doesn't support Hillary Clinton's proposal for gun licensing. And claiming that Hillary "had the guts to say no to Pat Buchanan" because she declined to be considered for the nomination of a party that didn't want her anyhow is a bit of a reach. It didn't take any guts for Hillary to say no to Pat Buchanan. She would have to be nuts to say anything else.
Both ads end with the weird sign-off, "Trust me—I love New York." Most Americans would probably say that someone who loves New York is decidedly not to be trusted. Koch's ads provide a modicum of support for that prejudice.
From: William Saletan
To: Jacob Weisberg
These ads pretty much confirm the strategic layout we discussed a couple of days ago: In this race, the Democrats have the issues, and the Republicans have the candidate. First Clinton pounded Lazio on two issues where he strayed from the liberal line. Then Lazio tried to neutralize the issue differences (saying that he, just like Clinton, was for a patients' bill of rights and against hate crimes) and steered the debate toward Clinton's negativism and her lack of New York roots.
As with the ads we reviewed Tuesday, the Clinton campaign seems to have cut and pasted its latest message directly from its polls to its TV spots. A lot of New Yorkers like Lazio personally but agree more with Clinton's position on the issues. That's exactly the message Koch delivers: "I like Rick Lazio, but I am not voting for him. He's wrong on too many issues." If Lazio loses the race, that message—and the Clinton campaign's elegant simplicity in delivering it—will be the reason.