GOP pulls ad that raised 'truth' issue

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Republicans, fearing a backlash from a public weary of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, abruptly dropped plans to air a television ad questioning Al Gore and President Clinton's truthfulness.

The ad, which had been sent to TV stations across the country, featured a 1994 interview with Gore in which he is questioned about calling Oliver North a "pathological liar." (Colonel North lied to Congress about arming the Nicaraguan contras.) Gore is asked whether he and Clinton have always told the truth, and Gore says they have.

Then Gore is asked: "And President Clinton has not uttered a single untruth in the last two years?" His answer: "Not that I have heard, absolutely not." The ad did not mention the context of the interview or the time frame of "the last two years." The Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998.

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At the 11th hour, advisers to George W. Bush and at the Republican National Committee (RNC) objected to the spot, arguing that it used an outdated interview and conflicted with the GOP presidential candidate's promise to stay positive, according to senior Republicans familiar with the ad strategy.

Outside experts say the RNC-sponsored ad, which was to have aired as soon as yesterday, was not only misleading but unlikely to be effective. "It would open Republicans and Bush to the charge that he has broken his pledge to run a different kind of campaign," says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a campaign expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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