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He was reacting to an ad that hit him with a wicked combination punch: his broken promise of a middle-class tax cut and his delivery of "the biggest tax increase in American history." The ad had been made not by Dole's media team but by Clinton's. "That was the last time we showed him one of those," says one of the consultants.
Beginning in January, Squier, Knapp and Sheinkopf produced the kind of attack spots they expected from Dole. Penn and Schoen would test the in-house negative ads, then help come up with better ads to rebut them. Sheinkopf, a connoisseur of campaign hardball, hatched the ugliest attacks he could think of. Penczner then used an advertising technique called animatics, video rough cuts using dummy images that could be transmitted by computer to the malls where Penn and Schoen were testing the ads. Penczner and Knapp's people created a library of B-roll images, scowling Dole/Gingrich couplings, laughing children, kindly seniors, forceful Clinton--any of which could be popped into the animatic to create a spot quickly and cheaply. Clinton's response ads were tested, refined and retested until they actually left voters feeling better about the President than they had before seeing the original Dole attack.
THE BIG DOG BASKS IN THE SUN
Bruised and bloodied by his early primary defeats--and by some $25 million in negative ads run against him by the Steve Forbes campaign--Dole locked up the nomination in March. He took a week off in April to bask in the Florida sun; his campaign went on vacation for a month. Don Sipple, the campaign's chief strategist, was unable to speak to the "Big Dog," as he called him, while Dole was working on his tan. Sipple was worried, and for good reason. No ideas were percolating, no plans being made, no strategy forming. Dole had talked of assembling a group of elders to hash out themes; it never happened. The Kansan had won the nomination with a bare-bones, hard-knuckled game of attrition: run as far to the right as he had to, then outspend or outlast Gramm, Lamar Alexander, Forbes and finally Buchanan.
During the primaries, Sipple concluded that Dole's people were all Washington insiders obsessed with process. They didn't seem to know or care what the voters were interested in or worried about. They busied themselves with the calendar, with filing deadlines and debate schedules--everything but ideas. They were always running around with copy torn from the wires, worried about what the A.P. was reporting. Nobody watched TV.
Sipple at first thought speeches would help. He recommended a series of high-profile addresses on hot-button subjects to get the campaign through the money crunch of spring and summer. But nothing happened. With the campaign close to broke, dozens of staff members were laid off, so there was no material for speeches. In late April, Sipple went to Reed. "Nothing's happening," he complained. Reed told Sipple that Dole wasn't engaged yet. "He doesn't want to worry about this now," said the campaign chief.