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Desert Storm Tribute: The Tape of Things to Come?

May 12, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The audience at a recent benefit dinner for military relief societies got all shook up by an emotional video tribute to the troops and families of Desert Storm.

But some Democrats were shaken for another reason - the political power of the nine-minute tape.

The affecting montage, set to country music and the occasional grave voice of President Bush, features flags and yellow ribbons, farewells and homecomings, desert warfare and the American heartland, ordinary soldiers and military brass, and a few shots of Bush in the desert with his troops.

It was produced by Phil Dusenberry, the architect of Ronald Reagan’s 1984 ″Morning in America″ ad campaign.

Lynn Cutler, vice chair of the national Democratic Party, was at the dinner last month and sat with some Republicans.

″I said, ‘Why do I think I’m looking at next year’s campaign commercial?’ And they said, ’Because you are,‴ she recalled.

Actually, the video was financed by Textron, the defense contractor that hosted the dinner, and by all accounts will never show up in a campaign.

″Nobody ever thought one time about that,″ said Jim Lake, a prominent Republican who represents Textron in Washington.

But Democrats are convinced they’ve seen the shape, if not the actual tape, of things to come.

″We can count on the ’92 campaign being George Bush and the glories of war,″ Cutler said. ″It’s emotional. It’s ‘good morning in America’ in a different variation and it’s going to obviously make people feel good, which it should. But once again we clearly are not going to discuss issues, at least from their side.″

The GOP may deny the tape is a campaign piece, said Democratic media consultant Raymond Strother, ″but they’re just being technical. Will they put it on TV in a campaign? Maybe not, but will they distribute 99,000 copies of it hand-to-hand? I would guess so.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Home-state unhappiness with Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder’s fiscal policies and presidential ambitions is reflected in a new poll that shows his approval rating sliding.

Wilder and Brad Coker, president of Mason-Dixon Opinion Research, blame the drop mainly on the state’s budget deficit.

Wilder’s decision to cut services rather than raise taxes ″obviously is an advantage nationally″ but may be turning off liberal Virginia voters, Coker said.

At the same time, he said, the black governor isn’t picking up support from conservatives who agree with his fiscal approach.

″If Doug Wilder were white, he’d have a higher rating,″ Coker said. ″Some folks can’t get over the race factor. Perhaps a little bit of his flamboyance gets in the way, as well.″

Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, said Virginians are also bothered that Wilder has been outside the state one-third of the time since taking office last year.

″I think he could have been a little more subtle about his ambitions,″ he said.

Of the 811 people questioned in the Mason-Dixon poll early this month, 27 percent said they rated Wilder’s performance poor, up from 13 percent in January. His good rating fell from 38 percent to 28 percent.

And if matched today against President Bush in Virginia, he’d lose nearly 3-to-1, said the poll, which has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Will Wilder’s image problems at home hinder his advance in the presidential sweepstakes?

″Eventually people will focus in on his home-state performance and ask why this favorite son isn’t getting home-state support,″ Sabato said.

But Coker said Jimmy Carter made it to the White House in similar circumstances.

″Once he scored some successes on the national scene, everybody rallied back around him,″ Coker said.

Democratic National Chairman Ron Brown last week praised Wilder for dealing with his budget deficit head-on. Ultimately, he said, ″I don’t think Virginia voters are going to turn their back on Gov. Wilder.″

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Get a lawyer, get an accountant and get used to asking lots of people for lots of money lots of times, a Democratic fund-raising group says in a new guidebook for prospective female House candidates.

″Thinking of Running For Congress? A Guide for Democratic Women″ offers insider esoterica along with common-sense tips, starting with basic questions like ″why do you want to run?″ and ″is your district winnable?″

Candidates are told to boil their message down to 30 seconds for TV and have professionals review every aspect of their lives, from tax returns and resumes to club memberships and sexual relations.

The guide from Emily’s List also advises candidates on how to pre-empt a crowded field, when to take that first poll and how to ask for contributions - repeatedly and specifically, as in ″Could you contribute $1,000?″

Wendy Sherman, executive director of Emily’s List, said more than 2,000 copies of the guide have gone to officeholders and other possible candidates, all of them Democratic women.

But she conceded the guide probably would be helpful to anyone, adding with a laugh: ″If it falls into the hands of a Republican, there’s not much I can do about it.″

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