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Political campaigns get daffy; cartoon ads a weapon of choice

NEW YORK -- Politicians looking for a fresh way to get voters' attention have seized on something that is more ''South Park" than ''The West Wing": cartoons.

Around the country, candidates are running cheeky animated political ads, mostly on the Internet, but also on television.

Democrat Fernando Ferrer, a candidate for mayor of New York, paired Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Bush in a spoof that hit the airwaves last week.

The two Republicans are seen riding a horse as somebody sings: ''There's one thing for certain, I'll love you until I die." Then Bush plants a kiss on Bloomberg's cheek.

Phil Angelides, a Democrat running for governor of California in 2006, has run a cartoon that beseeches voters to take back their state from Arnold Schwarzenegger's right-wing friends. The skit takes place on ''Schwarzenegger Street" and features a ''Cheney Monster" who gobbles the Constitution.

The burst of animated ads may be traceable to the wildly and unexpectedly popular ''This Land" clip that was unleashed on the Internet by JibJab Media during the 2004 presidential campaign. The musical satire skewered President Bush and Senator John F. Kerry.

In it, oversized photos of the candidates' heads were pasted onto animated bodies, and the men traded singing-and-dancing insults to the tune of ''This Land Is Your Land."

Spiridellis said politicians are copying JibJab for several reasons: Animation is an easy way to cut through the clutter of a campaign, and it can reach an unlimited audience inexpensively.

''This Land" cost only a few hundred bucks to make, he said.

''If you make something good and put it out there, people will pass it along."

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