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Inside Pitch

In an acknowledged bid to win over female voters, President Bush’s campaign team is touting his education record with the help of a woman who presumably knows his policies as well as anybody: his wife, Laura.

The first lady is promoting her husband’s stances on school issues, specifically praising his record on the No Child Left Behind Act, in a new, Web-based advertisement that appeared last week.

The 2½-minute ad will appear on more than 50 Web sites, including those for Yahoo! and Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

"From day one, the president has been a friend of parents and teachers who want to improve America’s schools," Mrs. Bush, a former teacher and school librarian, says in the ad. Viewers are shown images of cherubic children scurrying past what look like school buildings, and in one frame, being read to by the president.

Phrases such as "high standards" and "accountability" appear on screen; bright colors flicker throughout. The ad makes no reference to Mr. Bush’s likely Democratic opponent in November, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

The Bush team believes Mrs. Bush can help lure women voters to the GOP side. They also cite statistics showing that high percentages of women use the Internet. The Web ads were unveiled the same week the Bush campaign released a series of radio and television commercials on education policy, in both English and Spanish.

The English ads speak in generally positive tones about the president’s education record, crediting him with "signing into law the most significant education reforms in 35 years." The Spanish-language commercial, however, airing in four states with heavy Latino populations, attacks Mr. Kerry directly, suggesting that he is criticizing the No Child Left Behind Act "under pressure from education unions."

Jano Cabrera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said Mrs. Bush’s ads amounted to "soft lighting, soft focus, as opposed to actual results in the real world." Women "aren’t going to be fooled by a soft-pedaled advertisement," Mr. Cabrera said.

—Sean Cavanagh

Vol. 23, Issue 37, Page 28

Published in Print: May 19, 2004, as Federal File

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