Buchanan Consultant Disavows Eyebrow-Raising Attack Ads
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Patrick Buchanan’s admaker says he thinks some of the campaign’s stinging attack ads against President Bush did more harm than good.
″They kept the campaign from taking off any more than it did,″ Ian Weinschel said in an interview this week. He said Buchanan’s campaign was sidetracked from its economic themes with ads such as one that featured gay men dancing in chains and leather straps.
″Was it my idea of what the race should be about? Absolutely not,″ Weinschel said. ″... But I used my talents to tell the American people the things he (Buchanan) wanted in the best possible way.″
Chris Tremblay, a Buchanan spokesman, dismissed Weinschel’s comments, saying ″opinions are like noses. Everybody has one and Ian has his own.″ He said the campaign believed its attack ads were effective.
Buchanan on Wednesday said he was scaling back his presidential campaign after disappointing showings in Illinois and Michigan and would stop running ads attacking Bush.
Weinschel, who operates a media firm with his wife, Betsy, began Buchanan’s media campaign with an ad that used 1988 footage of Bush declaring ″read my lips, no new taxes,″ and then reminded viewers he broke the pledge.
The ad ended with a group of voters chanting ″read our lips ... vote Pat Buchanan for president.″ It was credited in part for Buchanan’s strong 37 percent finish in New Hampshire.
After New Hampshire, Weinschel said, the campaign’s team of political consultants and researchers enlarged and began turning to other issues.
The ads that followed created some of the most talked-about attacks and images on the campaign trail and prompted the Bush campaign, which at first ignored Buchanan’s challenge, to counterattack with its own ads.
One Buchanan spot accused Bush of interfering with religious freedoms through a proposed IRS rule requiring churches to report donors to the government. Another branded the words ″foreign agent″ across photos of Bush campaign advisers and implied that their lobbying work for foreign interests was one reason Michigan lost 73,000 jobs since 1989.
The most notable ad was aired in Georgia and used footage from the documentary ″Tongues Untied″ that showed scantily clad gay men dancing in leather harnesses and chains.
The ad accused Bush of supporting ″pornographic and blasphemous art too shocking to show″ through grants from the government’s National Endowment for Arts. Only a tiny number of the NEA’s grants to the arts go to projects with sexual themes.
Some analysts said the ad backfired because it smacked of bias against gay people, personally attacked Bush for decisions made at the NEA and aired footage distasteful to some viewers.
Weinschel said he originally made the ad without the controversial footage but Buchanan advisers ″came back and said it was not strong enough.″