Bradley, Forbes outspending front-runners in NH, Iowa

By Laura Meckler, Associated Press, 01/21/00

WASHINGTON -- Bill Bradley and Steve Forbes have outspent the front-runners on TV advertising in Iowa, but hundreds of commercials haven't been enough to catch the leaders in the polls.

In New Hampshire, Bradley also is outspending Vice President Al Gore. On the Republican side, Texas Gov. George W. Bush has spent more than Sen. John McCain, his closest challenger.

Precisely how much each candidate is spending is not entirely clear. In the sometimes puzzling world of politics, each campaign has an interest in suggesting that its opponents are spending more. That helps pump up expectations for the other guy, making it more likely that he will fail to meet those higher expectations -- on Monday in Iowa and on Feb. 1 in New Hampshire.

In Iowa, Forbes, a multimillionaire, has spent far more than anyone -- about $3.2 million, according to aides from the Forbes and Bush campaigns, who spoke on condition of anonymity. That's more than Bush has spent, though it's unclear how much more.

Bush aides say their campaign has spent about $1.6 million in Iowa; the Forbes camp puts the figure at $2.3 million. Either way, it's more than a million dollars less than Forbes.

"Steve Forbes needs to do very well in Iowa. Otherwise, it raises serious questions about his ability to rally voters behind his candidacy and his message," said Ari Fleischer, a Bush spokesman.

Forbes' campaign manager Bill Dal Col says they have to spend more because there are several other candidates competing for the conservative vote. No one should expect a victory, he says.

"In Iowa, we're going to be a solid second," he said.

Polls put Forbes in second place, but nearly 20 percentage points behind Bush.

Forbes has spent enough money so that the average Iowa TV viewer has seen more than 160 of his ads. The typical viewer has seen more than 100 Bush ads.

The Democrats have spent about the same amount in Iowa. The Bush and Gore campaigns say Bradley will spend $1.9 million by Monday, though Bradley's aides put it closer to $1.5 million -- just above Gore's $1.4 million. Gore has maintained a solid lead of about 20 points in the polls.

But in New Hampshire, where the race is tight, Bradley is spending much more than Gore.

Gore and Bush aides say Bradley is spending some $3 million there, though Bradley's camp puts it at $2.5 million. In any case, it's more than the $1.8 million that Gore will have spent by next week.

On the Republican side, Bush leads the spending. He will have spent at least $2.7 million by primary day, officials said. McCain's total is just under $2 million, and Forbes has spent about $1.6 million, including a half million dollars for commercials last summer, before most voters were paying attention.

"We've got a budget. We strategically place it," Dal Col said.