In First Direct TV Ad Clash, Gramm Hits Forbes For ‘Untrue’ Ads
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican presidential hopeful Phil Gramm launched a TV ad in New Hampshire today accusing rival Steve Forbes of lying about Gramm’s role in a 1990 budget deal that raised income taxes.
The Gramm ad is the first time in the 1996 campaign that a candidate has rushed to respond to another candidate’s television ads. The episode reflects not only Gramm’s sensitivity on the tax issue, but also the impact Forbes’ free-spending campaign has had on the Republican campaign.
By spending more than $5 million of his own money on TV ads, the multimillionaire publisher has vaulted into second place in states with early nominating contests, such as Iowa and New Hampshire, although he remains well back of front-runner Bob Dole.
Forbes’ surge has complicated efforts by Gramm, a Texas senator, to emerge as the top alternative to Dole.
In the ad challenged by Gramm, Forbes says Gramm in 1990 helped ``engineer a staggering $100 billion tax increase″ and that Dole supported the measure.
Gramm did participate in the budget summit that produced the 1990 deal. He supported an early plan that would have raised taxes $134 billion, mostly on gas, alcohol and luxury items. That plan contained substantial spending cuts, some affecting entitlement programs like Medicare. But it never came to a Senate vote.
Instead, the final package included $137 billion in tax increases _ including income tax hikes _ and fewer entitlement cuts. Gramm voted against that plan. President Bush supported the package, and Dole, the Senate GOP leader, voted for it.
In Gramm’s commercial, which began airing on New Hampshire’s WMUR-TV today, the announcer says of Forbes’ commercials: ``they’re not true.″ The words ``deceitful campaigning″ flash on screen.
``Phil Gramm fought to reduce the deficit in 1990 as he always has,″ the narrator says. ``But when the final plan raised income taxes, he had the courage to break with his president and Senator Dole. ... Forbes’ money talks, but it’s not telling the truth.″