Gov. Norm Bangerter, encouraged by recent polls that show support for Democrat Ted Wilson slipping, will start a new round of television commercials this week aimed at getting Republicans to forgive him for his actions - like tax increases - and vote for him despite their displeasure.
As Dave Buhler, Bangerter's campaign manager says, "We don't expect them (the dissatisfied Republicans) to forgive and forget. We just want them to forgive."Bangerter will spend upwards of $90,000 on the ads, which will run until election day. The ads' theme is Republicans should do what's right and vote for Bangerter, even if they once had second thoughts about him.
One ad is a clear endorsement: President Ronald Reagan, always popular in Utah, asking Republicans to vote for Bangerter.
The president obviously is speaking from a script, and pronounces the governor's name - "Bangerter" - a bit differently than the governor does. No matter. It's still Reagan, the man who got the largest majorities in the nation from Utahns in 1980 and 1984, asking Republicans to stay home with their party.
Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said if independent candidate Merrill Cook doesn't get out of the race or if George Bush or Ronald Reagan didn't come to Utah, Bangerter would have a hard time winning. Well, Bush won't come; Utah's already in his win column. And Reagan probably won't come - although he will be in Nevada near election day campaigning for Sen. Chic Hecht, R-Nev., and could drop in for an airport rally pretty easily. So, the Reagan commercial will likely have to do.
Another two ads touch the real heart of Bangerter's plea. The ads are "on the street" interviews with citizens. The people were screened by the ads' producers and given themes to talk about, but no script. They emphasize being won over by the governor, although these specific people may have been in Bangerter' camp for some time. One ad has former GOP chairman Doug Bischoff, who ran for the 2nd District two years ago and is a strong Bangerter supporter, saying the governor is the man to vote for.
In one of the ads, a woman says Ted Wilson is too "flashy" for her and that she's voting for Bangerter - who, presumably, isn't too flashy.
The clincher is a man who says it's time to "bury the hatchet" and vote for Bangerter - the clear message that Bangerter should be forgiven for suggesting a $220 million tax increase in 1986.
A third advertisement with industrialist Jon Huntsman - who briefly challenged Bangerter for the GOP nomination - endorsing and praising Bangerter will follow shortly.
All of Bangerter's TV ads are positive. Except for the woman saying Wilson is too flashy, Wilson's name isn't mentioned.
But Bangerter's radio ads definitely fall into the critical category, with the announcer saying Wilson is a man of "action" - and then saying that "action" during Wilson's years as mayor caused about every ill in the city. They say Wilson raised taxes and spending in Salt Lake City and left with his salary doubled. They say Wilson has "big plans" for your money - to sped it.