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Associated Press Newswires
Bush's Ad Push Set For Cable, Hispanic TV
President Bush begins his broadcast advertising push Thursday with a million-dollar buy on cable TV, with Hispanic networks to follow.
BY LIZ SIDOTI
February 24, 2004
WASHINGTON - Tune in to a NASCAR race on Fox Sports Net sometime soon, and you'll see a political ad praising President Bush. The same for the Golf Channel or Dennis Miller's new talk show on CNBC.
The first advertising of Bush's reelection campaign begins Thursday, and the multimillion-dollar buy, the cable stations chosen and the type of ad provide a window on his strategy: Appeal to the conservative base.
The campaign also seeks to make inroads with Hispanics, the nation's fastest-growing minority group.
Bush's approval ratings have dropped steeply after months of criticism by Democrats out to take his job. Campaign officials are directing his ads on national cable channels to energize core supporters and perhaps boost his poll numbers.
At least $4.5 million worth of airtime has been bought on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and other networks for ads over three weeks. Political analysts say it's the first significant advertising buy on national cable stations by a presidential campaign.
NEWS AND SPORTS
About half of the buy so far is for airtime on Fox News Channel, which Bush opponents contend reports most favorably on the GOP among the 24-hour news networks, and Fox Sports Net, mostly during NASCAR programs. The sport is watched heavily by white males, many with Southern or rural roots.
The campaign also has indicated to networks that it will place ads on ESPN, watched mainly by 18- to -34-year-old men, and the Golf Channel, where a typical viewer is an affluent 45-year-old male.
The campaign also has made courting Hispanics a major part of its ad strategy. Ads will start next week on Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo in markets in New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, advisors say.
''President Bush feels that it's very important to reach out to citizens throughout this country who may not have English as their native tongue,'' said Scott Stanzel, a campaign spokesman. ``Our media and advertising campaign will reflect that effort.''
Hispanics traditionally have favored the Democratic Party in presidential elections, but support has dropped in recent years. In 1996, 72 percent of Hispanics voted to reelect President Clinton, compared with just 21 percent for Republican Bob Dole. Four years later, Democrat Al Gore won 62 percent of Hispanic votes, versus 35 percent for Bush.
States with large Hispanic populations, such as Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida, were competitive in 2000, with contests being decided by six percentage points or less. They are considered in play again in 2004.
''If the Republicans take 5 [percent] to 10 percent of the Hispanic vote, they're going to kill the Democrats in those key states,'' said Joe Velasquez, a Democratic consultant with Moving America Forward, a group trying to mobilize Hispanic voters.
The number of Hispanics in America has more than doubled in the past decade to 35 million. About nine million are expected to be registered to vote by November.
As the group has grown, presidential candidates have stepped up efforts to court it by using advertising.
In 1996, Clinton and the Democratic Party spent about $1.1 million on such TV ads. Four years later, Bush and the Republican Party poured in an estimated $2.3 million, outspending Gore and the Democratic Party by more than two to one, according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which tracks ad spending.