2000 Bush VS. Gore

"Successful Leader"


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate
"Successful Leader," Bush, 2000

MALE NARRATOR: He's been hailed as the Republican Party's best hope to win the White House.

[TEXT: "The GOP's best hope for 2000." -Fortune]

MALE NARRATOR: As governor, he signed the two largest tax cuts in Texas history.

[TEXT: 3 Billion Dollars in Tax Cuts]

MALE NARRATOR: He reduced the growth of state government spending to the lowest in forty years.

[TEXT: reduced rate of spending]

MALE NARRATOR: He improved public schools by restoring local control, raising standards, and returning to basics.

[TEXT: improved public schools...local control...high standards...returning to basics]

MALE NARRATOR: He cut welfare rolls in half.

[TEXT: cut welfare rolls in half]

MALE NARRATOR: Reduced junk lawsuits and cut juvenile crime thirty-eight percent.

[TEXT: reduced junk lawsuits...cut juvenile crime 38%...www.georgewbush.com]

MALE NARRATOR: George W. Bush. A compassionate conservative leader. A fresh start for America.

[TEXT: George W. BUSH: a fresh start]


"Successful Leader," Bush for President, Inc., 2000

Maker: Maverick Media

Original air date: 10/25/99

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2000/successful-leader (accessed May 22, 2024).


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2000 Bush Gore Results

Domestic concerns were at the heart of the 2000 presidential campaign as Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush sparred over a relatively small group of key issues, including prescription drug plans for senior citizens, the future of Social Security, education, and the economy. Each side claimed that the other’s economic plan would result in increased deficits. Gore’s commercials claimed that Bush’s planned tax cuts were irresponsible, and Bush’s commercials claimed that a Gore administration would squander the budget surplus through big spending, bringing back the days of high deficits. With the economy in good shape, and with the public seemingly uninterested in foreign affairs, the election was a battle for the center. The commercials for both campaigns attempted to create warm images of their candidates with soft background music.

Conspicuously missing from the commercials was reference to the sex scandal and impeachment that marred the last two years of the Clinton presidency. The election was the closest in American history, determined by a margin of just 537 votes in Florida. A series of intense legal battles over the Florida recount was not resolved until a controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decision 36 days after the election.

George W. Bush for president
Dick Cheney for vice president

"A Fresh Start"

George Bush’s commercials were designed to reinforce his image as a "compassionate conservative" with their focus on domestic issues and frequent images of seniors and children. Since the end of the Cold War in 1989, the traditional Republican focus on foreign policy and the need for military strength had virtually disappeared from presidential campaigns. With an emphasis on pocketbook issues, Bush’s commercials were filled with facts and figures onscreen, using statistics, graphs, and charts to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. The use of "attack" ads was relatively mild; clearly, the commercials were designed to reach undecided voters who might very well have been turned off by vicious, polarizing rhetoric.

Al Gore for president
Joe Lieberman for vice president

"Prosperity for America's Families"

Al Gore’s commercials featured the candidate speaking in gentle, soothing tones, perhaps to counter the stiffness of his image. However, they failed to demonstrate any major difference between the two candidates. For example, the commercial "Accountability" began with Gore saying, "George Bush and I actually agree on accountability in education." Since the idea of accountability was the basis of Bush’s education proposals, the commercial actually may have benefited Bush more than Gore. While a number of Gore commercials challenged Bush’s record as Texas governor and the fairness of his tax-cut proposals, most of them relied on statistics rather than emotions, and their impact was weak.

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