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SPOT CHECK

Editor's note: The candidates for president will be televising commercials as the election approaches. As the ads appear, they will be described and analyzed in Spot Check.

Candidate: Ross Perot, independent.

Opponents: President Bush, Republican, and Bill Clinton, Democrat.

The ad: A red flag, rippling slowly, fills the screen, providing the backdrop for white-lettered text that rolls up. A deep-voiced announcer reads the script. "While the Cold War is ending, another war is now upon us. In this new war, the enemy is not the red flag of Communism, but the red ink of our national debt, the red tape of our government bureaucracy. The casualties of this war are counted in lost jobs and lost dreams. As in all wars, the critical issue to winning is leadership. In this election, you can vote for a candidate who has proven his leadership by making the free-enterprise system work. Creating jobs. Building businesses. A candidate who is not a business-as-usual politician, but a business leader with the know-how to expand the tax base, reduce the national debt and restore the meaning of "Made in the U.S.A.' The issue is leadership. The candidate is Ross Perot. The choice is yours."

Analysis: The ad accurately conveys Perot's belief that the most dangerous threat to the country is its growing debt. His opponents, Bush and Clinton, say unemployment is an even more pressing problem. As in the 30-minute "infomercial" broadcast by Perot last week, the 60-second ads never mention Perot's tough prescription for eliminating the deficit, which includes higher income taxes, a large increase in gasoline taxes and deep cuts in entitlement programs. Perot's claim that his success in the business world would be transferable to government is unprovable. He has no political experience.

Perot is at his best when tsk-tsking about the economy, a practice that allows him to cast blame on the Republicans and the Democrats. By stressing that the main threat to the country is now red ink, not the Red Army, Perot diminishes the liability of his dearth of foreign policy experience. By not appearing or being heard in the commercial, Perot may be acknowledging that his on-again, off-again campaign has made his message more powerful than its messenger.

_ Keven Sack, New York Times

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