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Spot check

Editor's note: As advertisements in the race for U.S. Senate appear, they will be described and analyzed by the St. Petersburg Times.

Candidate: Sen. Bob Graham, Democrat seeking re-election

Opponent: Bill Grant, Republican

Producer of ad: Squier Eskew Knapp Ochs

The ad: The spot opens with a construction supervisor giving a light-hearted order to the senator. "We got a jumpin' jack with your name on it down there," he says.

"You do?" replies Graham, wearing an orange hard hat, orange safety vest, blue jeans and a denim work shirt, freshly pressed.

The scene switches to Graham operating a jackhammer-like dirt compactor down in a trench.

"Bob Graham has worked about every job in Florida, doing his workdays side by side with the people he represents," says the narrator. "So it's no surprise that Graham's first priority is putting Florida back to work. He's working to save jobs and create new ones."

Graham and his "jumpin' jack" fade into the background and an inset shows him as governor and senator doing work in a restaurant, on a fire truck, in a nursing home, in an orange grove and a car wash. Headlines flash on the screen about Graham supporting a balanced budget amendment and his "six-point plan to jump-start the economy."

The scene switches to Graham chatting with _ and earnestly listening to _ a worker at a port.

"Graham is leading the charge to cut the deficit," the narrator says. "He's making the tough choices."

The ad closes with a stylized green map of Florida and under the tag: "Bob Graham. Working for Florida."

Analysis: Graham's workdays will be familiar to most residents who have lived in Florida for a while. He has done 265 of them since he embarked on his first gubernatorial campaign in 1974.

The workdays provoke scorn from political opponents who ridicule Graham as a millionaire born to privilege, taking an occasional day off from the Senate to work a real job.

The workday theme, of course, dovetails into the No. 1 issue of this political year: jobs and the economy. Graham uses the image of his working regular jobs to highlight his proposals to boost the economy. Graham's proposals did produce a few headlines, but nowhere does the ad show where his ideas resulted in new jobs.

He proposed tax credits for first-time home buyers (to stimulate the housing industry), use of Individual Retirement Account savings without penalty for down payments for first-time home buyers, a speedup of federal highway projects and other measures to stimulate the economy.

Most of the ideas are conventional and uncontroversial, not "tough choices." His campaign manager points out that Graham did buck Democratic leaders in supporting a balanced budget amendment and proposals to cut federal agency overhead.

The statewide spot is Graham's first in the campaign. "People who watch TV regularly should see it several times in the next week," said campaign manager Jay Hakes. He would not say how much was spent on air time.

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