Buchanan's Surge Nets Free Air Time, Saves Ad Expenses: Analysts Note Media Filter in Coverage

By Price, Joyce | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 23, 1996 | Go to article overview

Buchanan's Surge Nets Free Air Time, Saves Ad Expenses: Analysts Note Media Filter in Coverage


Price, Joyce, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Free news exposure will give Pat Buchanan and, to a lesser degree, Lamar Alexander more exposure than their cash-strapped campaigns otherwise could afford. But there's no substitute for cash in the volatile world of presidential politics, media and political experts say.

"All things considered, free media is the best media, but there are significant limitations," said Frank Donatelli with the consulting firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, an adviser to Sen. Bob Dole's campaign.

Craig Shirley, another GOP consultant who heads the consulting firm of Craig Shirley and Associates, agreed. Free coverage, he said, is "part of a formula, and you need it all," he said. "You need paid advertisements, because you can rarely count on the media to give out your views unfiltered."

And if you are competing in five or six different primaries on one day, it is impossible to make live appearances everywhere, Mr. Donatelli said. He said free coverage tends to be limited to news programs, which are not in prime time. Campaign ads in prime time, he noted, are much more effective.

Mr. Buchanan, who upset Mr. Dole in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, had only $101,192 in his campaign coffers at the end of January, though he has been getting infusions of new money since then.

Mr. Alexander, who ran third in New Hampshire, had a more respectable $1.1 million on hand after the primary, said campaign spokesman Mark Merritt. Mr. Dole, who ran second behind Mr. Buchanan, has about $6 million.

Asked if Mr. Buchanan needs more money, Mr. Shirley said: "It wouldn't hurt. You can't run for president just living off the land."

Roger Stone, a Republican strategist who served in the presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, said Mr. Alexander obviously needs more money too. His campaign's current worth "won't even take care of the primaries next Tuesday," said Mr. Stone, of the consulting firm of Davis, Manafort & Stone.

As for the likelihood of extensive free coverage of the Alexander campaign from here on out, Mr. …

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