Factcheck.org: What's Wrong with Edwards' Mini-Ads

Summary
Two recent ads by the Edwards campaign are quick and to the point, but they miss the mark. One claims that Edwards is the "only" Democrat who "beats" the leading Republican contenders in "the recent" CNN poll. Actually, Edwards wasn't even included in the most recent CNN poll; the ad is referring to an older one. More recent polling has found that both Obama and Clinton are leading all of the Republican front-runners.

The other ad says that Edwards is the "only" Democrat running who opposed NAFTA and other trade deals. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio would take issue with that.

Analysis
On Jan. 15, less than a week before the Democrats' debate in Myrtle Beach, the Edwards campaign posted on its Web site four 10-second ads to be aired in South Carolina. Two of these ads play loose with the facts.

Recent Is Relative
John Edwards For President Ad: "Beats"
Narrator: Who's the only Democrat that beats all the Republicans in the recent CNN poll? John Edwards is the only one.
John Edwards: I'm John Edwards and I approve this message.

The Edwards ad titled "Beats" shows a picture of the two Democratic front-runners he is chasing, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and asks which Democrat "beats all the Republicans in the recent CNN poll." Flash to a photo of Edwards: "John Edwards is the only one." But that's not what "the recent" CNN poll showed.

In fact, Edwards wasn't even included in the most recent CNN poll that compared the Republican and Democratic candidates in head-to-head match-ups. But it did include Clinton and Obama, and they did quite well. Both were ahead in all of their hypothetical match-ups against the four Republican front-runners: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

The poll was conducted Jan. 9 and 10 and released Jan. 12, three days before the Edwards campaign released its ad. However, there is an older CNN poll, released a month ago, that did include Edwards in the hypothetical match-ups. At that time, he indeed was the only candidate to lead all four Republican contenders. Obama was ahead of three of the candidates and tied with McCain at 48 percent. Clinton was ahead of the same three and trailing McCain by 2 percentage points.

Don't Forget Dennis
John Edwards For President Ad: "Deal"

Narrator:Which Democrat opposed NAFTA and other trade deals that send American jobs overseas? John Edwards is the only one.
John Edwards: I'm John Edwards and I approve this message.
The ad titled "Deal" says that "John Edwards is the only one" among Democrats who opposed NAFTA and other trade deals. Of course, none of the current Democratic candidates, Edwards included, was even in Congress when NAFTA was implemented, so such a pronouncement rings a bit hollow.

Edwards has been an outspoken critic of the agreement for some time, but he may be forgetting one of his Democratic counterparts. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is also a strong opponent of NAFTA, and yes, he's still running for president, even though he hasn't been included in some of the recent debates. He even promises on his Web site that, if elected president, he "will end America's participation in NAFTA and the WTO."

Edwards doesn't go quite that far. He condemns NAFTA strongly on his Web site but stops short of saying he'd end it. Instead he promises to be a "tough negotiator" on any future trade agreements. In early January, he told an Iowa trade coalition of labor, environmental and consumer groups that he would look into changing NAFTA and other trade agreements, but Obama and Clinton made similar promises to the group as well.

Brevity can be the soul of wit, as Shakespeare noted. In these two ads, it's the purveyor of half-truths.

Reprinted with permission from Factcheck.org.

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