October 22, 1998
TERENCE SMITH: It's been a weapon in the South Dakota Senate race.
AD: Tom and Bill: Bosom Buddies.
CLINTON PUPPETEER: Hey, Tom, do you think me and Monica have hurt the image of this office?
DASCHLE PUPPET: I don't think believe so at all.
COMMERCIAL: Tom Daschle: Is he working for us, or for him?
TERENCE SMITH: And ammunition in the Senate campaign in Florida.
COMMERCIAL: He looked us in the eyes and lied. His political ally, Bob Graham, calls his behavior disappointing. Charlie Crist calls it inexcusable.
GIRL IN AD: Are all politicians like Bill Clinton?
MAN IN AD: No, they're not.
TERENCE SMITH: In selected races across the country, Republicans have been using the White House sex scandal in campaign ads against incumbent Democrats.
COMMERCIAL: What Bill Clinton did was wrong.
TERENCE SMITH: And in some races, Democrats are fighting fire with fire.
COMMERCIAL: A simple blue dress -- a silver hatpin from you know who. Some politicians want to spend the next two years fighting over these matters.
TERENCE SMITH: So says an ad for Wendell Young, a Democrat running for the Pennsylvania state legislature.
COMMERCIAL: They wouldn't be Wendell Young.
TERENCE SMITH: And in the New York gubernatorial race, the Democrat feels he has a friend in the White House.
COMMERCIAL: I'm Peter Vallone. I think it's time someone stood up for President Clinton and stood up to all the Republicans who are trying to tear him down. I don't understand why they want to destroy a man who's done so much for New York.
|TERENCE SMITH: One way or the other, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky and the White House sex scandal loom over congressional and state races this fall. But all but about a score of candidates have shied away from explicit mention of the Lewinsky affair in their campaign ads. Republican consultant Don Walter says the scandal, embarrassing as it may be for the White House, is the political equivalent of the third rail -- touch it, and you're dead.|
DON WALTER: The use of the image of Clinton, the use of anything related to the scandal is too toxic to imagine right now.
TERENCE SMITH: That did not seem to be the Republican view more than a month ago, when Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth played the scandal card in her re-election drive in Idaho.
HELEN CHENOWETH: Bill Clinton's behavior has severely rocked this nation, and damaged the office of the President. I believe that personal conduct and integrity does matter. Where do you stand, Dan?
TERENCE SMITH: The spot was pulled abruptly on Sept. 10th after Chenoweth, a Christian conservative, was forced to admit that she had had a six-year relationship with a married man in the 1980's. Her more recent ads stress motherhood and the great outdoors, with no mention of the president.
COMMERCIAL: Who cares if the President lied? It's just about sex.
TERENCE SMITH: In September, as the Starr Report was coming out, Gary Bauers' conservative organization, American Renewal, took the President to task with an ad that showed children watching television.
COMMERCIAL: Mr. President, it's time for you to put our country and our children first.
TERENCE SMITH: But that ad, too, has disappeared and now the Democrats, sensing a rebound, believe they have found an issue: the prospect of prolonged impeachment hearings. It's being mentioned in Maryland.
COMMERCIAL: I'm Ralph Neas, a Democrat running for Congress. My opponent Rep. Morella, voted for an open-ended impeachment inquiry. I favor censuring the President, but then getting on with the business of government.
TERENCE SMITH: Across the country, Washington Democrat Jay Inslee sounded a similar note...
COMMERCIAL: Rick White's vote on impeachment will drag us through months and months of more mud and politics.
JAY INSLEE: I'm Jay Inslee. What the President did was wrong. He should be censured, but not impeached.
TERENCE SMITH: The Inslee approach seems to be working. He has gained ground on White in the latest Democratic polls. Media consultant Don Walter thinks the impeachment debate is a loser for Republicans.
DON WALTER: I think Republicans would be just dumb as a rock to push that issue anymore now.
TERENCE SMITH: The impeachment issue.
DON WALTER: The pendulum is swinging, and you just got to duck at the right time.
TERENCE SMITH: For one of his clients, Virginia Republican congressional candidate Demaris Miller, Walter just grazed the scandal issue.
DON WALTER: Everyday we hear about scandal -- not enough about solving problems.
TERENCE SMITH: Like most candidates across the country, Demaris Miller is accenting the positive.