Republicans turned to an old friend Thursday _ the tax-and-spend issue _ for a nearly $2-million ad blitz designed to sour voters on President Clinton and the Democratic Congress in the campaign's final days.
"Clinton and his Democrat Congress control Washington and what do we get?" said one of three new GOP ads. "More taxes, more spending, more government. That's not what we were promised. And that's not what this country needs."
Another ad highlights options in a White House budget memo leaked last week, charging that Clinton is considering Social Security and Medicare cuts and billions in new tax increases.
"Fed up with the Democrat double talk and hypocrisy on taxes and spending?" the narrator in this ad says. "On Nov. 8 _ send the Clinton Congress home."
The tax issue has helped Republicans rebound in several close elections, including the Senate race in Minnesota and the Arizona governor's contest, so the Republican National Committee decided to make it a major focus of its advertising effort.
The White House quickly counterpunched, suggesting the GOP ads were proof of Democratic momentum. "They don't suddenly do $2-million worth of hit ads unless they are worried," said White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.
A new national poll offered a sliver of evidence to support the White House argument.
A Times Mirror survey of 1,577 registered voters taken Oct. 20-24 found that 47 percent planned to vote Republican in their House race, while 44 percent said Democratic. That was an improvement for Democrats over the last Times Mirror survey, and other polls this week have even shown Democrats with a narrow lead on the question.
The boost for Democrats was attributed to the success of some incumbents in steering the races away from Clinton and toward local issues.