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SPOT CHECK

OFFICE: U.S. Senate

CANDIDATE: Incumbent Bob Graham, Democrat

LIKELY OPPONENT: State Sen. Charlie Crist, R-St. Petersburg

PRODUCER OF AD: Squier Knapp Ochs Dunn, Washington

RUNS: Central and North Florida, including Tampa Bay

THE AD: Graham is sitting in a classroom talking with a young girl. "Alyssa, what are you going to be?"

Alyssa: "I want to be a senator like you."

Graham: "Oh, Alyssa is going to grow up to be a senator. Boy, I tell you we need, we need good senators. Why would you like to be a senator?"

Alyssa: "Because it looks fun."

Graham: "It looks fun, it is fun."

The commercial shows other students in the class.

Announcer: "Bob Graham, working to improve education. Supports more teachers smaller class sizes building more classrooms and tax-free savings for college. Bob Graham, working for Alyssa and all our other future leaders."

ANALYSIS: Once you get get past the chatter with the girl, this ad is simply a way for Graham to show he is a leader on education before Crist grabs the issue. That's easy to do as a U.S. senator because the main federal role in education is to write big checks. Senators don't get blamed for problems in schools, but they can always say they are sending money to help. Every politician wants more teachers, smaller classes and more classrooms, so the federal debate is about where the money should go. Republicans prefer block grants and vouchers so states and parents can decide how to spend it. Democrats typically want more strings attached so they can be sure states are guaranteeing civil rights and helping the poor. The ad accurately portrays Graham as a leader on school construction and tax-free savings for college. His amendments on those issues were included in the education bill that passed the Senate last week.

- BILL ADAIR

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