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MPR'S LAURA McCALLUM and MARK ZDECHLIK with Clay Steinman, Chair of the Communications Studies Department at Macalester College and public affairs consultant Dean Alger review this year's election advertising. Watch for additions to the series through the fall campaigns. (Our 1998 and 1996 campaign advertising feature includes some historically significant ads that remain available.)

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Fourteen:: October 25, 2000: Minnesota's U.S. Senate race is the most expensive in the state's history, and much of the nearly $10 million spent by the three major candidates so far has been used on television ads. Since ads have dominated the campaign, we decided to ask some citizens what they think of the latest commercials in the Senate race.
Featured Ads: Mark Dayton (Sound from TV ad)
Rod Grams (Sound from TV ad)

Thirteen: October 5, 2000: Although many voters have said they're tired of negative ads from political candidates, as the campaign of 2000 winds down, the number of attack ads is increasing.
Featured Ads: Mark Dayton (Sound from TV ad)
Rod Grams (Sound from TV ad)
Linda Runbeck (TV ad)
Bill Luther (TV ad)
John Kline (TV ad)

Twelve: September 20, 2000: The first head-to-head ads between Rod Grams and Mark Dayton have hit the air, setting a negative tone to the campaign.
Featured Ads: Mark Dayton (Sound from TV ad)
Rod Grams (Sound from TV ad)
James Gibson (TV ad)

Eleven: September 8, 2000: The candidates for the DFL nomination for U.S. Senate turn to TV ads that feature details of endorsements and news coverage. But they're selective in how they portray them.
Featured Ads: Mike Ciresi (Sound from TV ad)
Rebecca Yanisch (Sound from TV ad)
Mark Dayton (Sound from TV ad)
James Gibson (TV ad)

Ten: September 6, 2000: The Fourth District Congressional candidates are competing for voters' attention in a campaign that's largely been dominated by the big-money Senate candidate ad buys.
Featured Ads: Betty McCollum (Sound from TV ad)
Steve Novak (Sound from TV ad)
Chris Coleman (Sound from TV ad)

Nine: August 23, 2000: Ad campaigns for presidential candidate Ralph Nader and 4th District congressional candidate Cathie Hartnett use humor to try to catch voters' attention.
Featured Ads: Ralph Nader (Sound from TV ad)
Cathie Hartnett (Radio ad)

Eight: August 23, 2000: DFL Senate candidates Mike Ciresi, Mark Dayton and Recebba Yanisch continue to buy television ads as the primary approaches. The AFL-CIO airs a "cookie-cutter" ad criticizing Sen. Rod Grams.
Featured Ads: Rebecca Yanisch - Mike Ciresi
Mark Dayton - AFL-CIO anti-Grams

Seven: August 1, 2000: DFL-endorsed Senate candidate Jerry Janezich joins the media fray with his first advertisement, while challenger Mike Ciresi introduces "web-mercials."
Featured Ads: Jerry Janezich - Mike Ciresi (TV Audio)
Ciresi - education (Web) | Ciresi - Health care (Web)

Six: June 13, 2000: U.S. Senate Mark Dayton and Rebecca Yanisch air ads to boost their images as they prepare for the DFL primary.
Featured Ads: Mark Dayton 1 - 2
Rebecca Yanisch 1 - 2

Five: May 24, 2000: DFL Senate candidate David Lillehaug has taken to the airways with a pair of unusual five-minute radio campaign ads. Staffers say it's a much better way to get their candidate's message to voters than standard 30-second commercials.
Featured Ads: David Lillehaug

Four: May 4, 2000: In a new television campaign ad, DFL Senate candidate Mike Ciresi tries to counter the fat-cat attorney image some voters may have of him.
Featured Ads: Mike Ciresi (Listen)

Three: April 6, 2000: Republican Senator Rod Grams rolled out his first re-election television ad this week. It's the beginning of an effort to bolster the image of a politician with relatively low approval ratings for an incumbent.
Featured Ads: Rod Grams

Two: February 28, 2000: The first television ads for the U.S. Senate race and presidential campaign have begun airing in Minnesota. DFL Senate candidate Michael Ciresi is running statewide spots until the March DFL caucuses, and Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Bradley bought airtime in Minnesota earlier this month.
Featured Ads: Mike Ciresi
Bill Bradley

One: December 9, 1999: The 2000 election is 11 months away, yet campaign ads have already begun hitting the airwaves. DFL Senate candidate Mike Ciresi has been running radio spots on the Iron Range, the Republican Party has countered with an attack ad, and the first of what promises to be an explosion of so-called "issue ads" challenges Congressman Bill Luther.
Featured Ads: Mike Ciresi
GOP against Ciresi

Other than a prominent mention of the $500-per-child tax credit Grams pushed for, the commercial is light on details about exactly what he's done as a U.S. senator or what he intends to do if his re-election effort is successful.
Alger: This is a classic image ad. He has included a whole series of classic images that he wants to portray, visual images that he wants to use to portray his candidacy. We have Veterans of Foreign Wars, rural elements, a whole series of these classic ads. However I find it interesting that there's not a person of color anywhere in the ad.

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Bradley doesn't mention Democratic rival Al Gore, but has charged Gore with voting against abortion rights as a congressman. But analyst Clay Steinman says Bradley may be splitting hairs by trying to distinguish himself from Gore on abortion, since Gore has been endorsed by the National Abortion Rights Action League.
Steinman: So to make a distinction that's not a difference is a strategy, but I don't know how helpful it is to voters or people who go to caucuses to make up their minds.

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Public affairs consultant Dean Alger, the Minnesota director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns, says the Ciresi spot is reminiscent of Hillsman's Wellstone ad called "fast-paced Paul", which showed Wellstone furiously campaigning around Minnesota. But Alger says unlike fast-paced Paul, Ciresi's spot has no biographical information on the candidate.
Alger: No background, no pictures of the family, so he really isn't doing much to introduce himself. He's trying to create this initial image in people's heads, which we know from research can have a real impact, that he's actually a regular guy. He's out there really hustling to listen to what the Minnesotans are trying to say, and take his campaign out there and to get the people involved.

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Dean Alger says the ad is misleading on several fronts. The bill supported by Luther would require drug companies to give seniors the same discounts they give to bulk customers such as HMO's and the federal government. It does not create a "big government plan", as the ad implies. And Alger says the ad discloses nothing about Citizens for Better Medicare.

Alger: Now to the casual viewer, this sounds like a bunch of regular "John and Jane Q. Citizens" got together and are trying to improve Medicare. In truth, this group and its ad is primarily funded by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America.

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" Winner"
Mike Ciresi
RealAudio 28.8

Ad analyst Dean Alger, the Minnesota director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns, says Ciresi is trying to head off criticism that he's a highly paid lawyer who can buy his way into the Senate.

Alger: If somebody has a potential vulnerability, they want to start running ads early and basically it's like an inoculation against a disease; you put the ad out and you tackle the issue, but you frame it. You frame it in such a way that eases your weakness or defines it away.
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GOP anti-Ciresi ad
RealAudio 28.8

Ciresi's attempt to forestall criticism of his legal career didn't go unnoticed by the state Republican Party, which responded with its own Iron Range radio ad attacking the legal fees from the tobacco settlement. Alger says the ad also neglects to mention that Ciresi's firm took the case on a contingency basis at a time when tobacco companies had never lost a case. But Alger says the staggering legal fee may resonate with the public.

Alger: To normal people like you and I, that sounds like an obscene amount of money even if they put in a lot of hours. It's an understandable target, and without question, the public had something of a reaction at least that said, "This is a heck of a lot of money."
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David Lillehaug - One (Listen)
David Lillehaug - Two (Listen)
  Lillehaug's campaign manager Sean Gagen says the five-minute ads were designed to set his candidate apart from the wide field of DFLers hoping to take on Rod Grams.
Steinman: If we compare these ads to the Ciresi ads we've seen, they are a little bit heavier on substance and a little less slick in terms of trying to frame the candidate as an attractive character. It really is much more about how Lillehaug feels about the issues.
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Dean Alger received his BA from Whittier College in Whittier California, and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Riverside. He is the Minnesota director of "The Alliance for Better Campaigns," a national election-reform initiative. Dr. Alger is author of The Media and Politics, 2nd ed., published in fall, 1995, co-author of Crosstalk: Citizens, Candidates and Media in a Presidential Campaign, published in April, 1996, and author of "Megamedia", published this fall; he is also author or co-author of numerous professional papers on the political advertising, the media's role in elections, and related subject matter. He is a former Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Policy in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has taught college in Minnesota and North Dakota, has extensive experience serving as an analyst for local media, and has moderated many panels and discussions of public affairs and candidates' debates.

Clay Steinman is professor and chair of Communication Studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, where he teaches media analysis and theory as well as film and cultural studies. He teaches about racism and the media in Macalester's new program in Comparative North American Studies. As a journalist, he worked for The Nation and and as an editor and reporter for newspapers and news agencies. Rutgers University Press will publish his new book, Consuming Environments: Television and Commercial Culture, co-authored by Mike Budd and Steve Craig, in February. He did his undergraduate work at Duke University and graduate studies at Columbia and New York universities.