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Part pitch, part holiday cheer, ads unwrap traits of candidates

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December 20, 2007

Pundits and voters alike wondered how presidential candidates would deal with Christmas coming right before crucial contests in Iowa and New Hampshire because of the earliest-ever nomination calendar.

One answer arrived yesterday in a flurry of holiday-themed TV ads that, intentionally or not, are revealing some qualities about the candidates and their campaigns.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, for instance, manages to make hers rather wonkish.

The ad shows a pair of hands putting the finishing touches on presents with cards that are marked "Universal Health Care," "Alternative Energy," "Bring Our Troops Home," and "Middle Class Tax Breaks" - reminding Iowa and New Hampshire voters of Clinton's campaign promises. Then the ad shows Clinton. "Where did I put universal pre-K?" she asks. "Ah, there it is."

In his spot, Democrat John Edwards focuses on his persona of being the voice for the less fortunate, including the homeless and poor. "We see you, we hear you, and we will speak for you," he says. "In America, the chance to build a better life is a promise made to each of us, and the obligation to keep it rests with us all."

Republican Mike Huckabee was the first out of the gate with a heavily Christian ad that played up his appeal to evangelical voters in Iowa, where he is leading, but generated controversy over its overtly religious tone.

In their holiday ads unveiled yesterday, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Rudy Giuliani strive for the ecumenical.

Obama's is a warm greeting to Iowa voters, featuring a family scene with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters sitting in front of a fireplace and Christmas tree.

"In this holiday season we are reminded that the things that unite us as a people are more powerful and enduring than anything that sets us apart. And we all have a stake in each other, in something larger than ourselves," says Obama, reprising a campaign theme.

Still, the ad, by including Christmas symbols, subliminally, at least, rebuts the false Internet rumors that Obama is Muslim.

Giuliani goes for a little humor.

"There are many things I wish for this holiday season," he says, wearing a red sweater vest and sitting in front of a twinkling Christmas tree. "I wish for peace with strength. Secure borders. A government that spends less than it takes in. Lower taxes for our businesses and families. And I really hope, that all of the presidential candidates can just get along."

"Ho, ho, ho, ho," says a man dressed up as Santa Claus. "I was with you right up until that last one. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho."

"Can't have everything!" Giuliani says, as he takes a candy cane from Santa. "I'm Rudy Giuliani and I approved this message. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!"

FOON RHEE

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