AdWatch: New ad says Cicilline fought for seniors


Associated Press

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 11 at 11:00 AM

TITLE: "Saved"

FORMAT-LENGTH: A 30-second TV ad.

PAID FOR BY: The Cicilline Committee.

TIMING: The ads began airing Monday, five weeks before the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, making Providence Mayor David Cicilline the first Congressional candidate to air TV ads.

DISTRIBUTION: Showing on Rhode Island broadcast stations.

SCRIPT EXCERPTS: Snippets of interviews with unidentified older women, who make comments including: "The governor was going to shut down the senior citizens (centers)." ''We didn't know where to turn, but David Cicilline said that he would help." ''David would not take no for an answer. He fought and he worked in a way that we finally got our funding."

KEY IMAGES: Images of the women speaking are interspersed with images of Cicilline speaking with senior citizens.

ANALYSIS: Four Democrats are vying to replace Patrick Kennedy in Congress, and Cicilline is by far the best-funded of them all, with about $900,000 in his campaign account compared with about $180,000 for businessman Anthony Gemma, the candidate with the second-largest bank account.

Another Democrat, state Rep. David Segal, also launched a TV ad this week, but it was scheduled to appear to a limited extent on cable stations and was being used largely as a fundraising appeal, rather than to reach out to voters. Former state party Chairman Bill Lynch is also running.

Cicilline is the best-known of the candidates, having been elected mayor of the capital city in 2002. His ad is designed to appeal in a positive way to a key constituency in the 1st Congressional District, the elderly.

Cicilline's campaign says the claims in the ad are based on what happened after the state made widespread cuts in 2008, including to funding that would have gone to the city's senior centers. The ads indicate the cuts were a decision made by Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, but while he proposed the cuts, the Democratic General Assembly approved them.

Most centers would not have closed because of the cuts, but many cut services, advocates said. Bill Flynn, executive director of the Senior Agenda Coalition, a statewide nonprofit that organized against the cuts, said Cicilline's work did help restore services that were cut.

One center, the Fox Point Senior Center, was in danger of closing because of the state cuts, as well as cuts of federal funds, said center Director Melanie Borges. The center was temporarily saved when the city funneled about $226,000 in federal stimulus money to seven senior centers. But Borges said her center is again in danger of closing because the stimulus money was a one-time fix.

The ad says Cicilline "fought and he worked in a way that we finally got our funding."

The stimulus money that went to the centers came from federal grants that allow local communities to decide where to spend the money, within certain guidelines.

Cicilline proposed to the city council in the spring of 2009 that the money be used to close the gap in funding for the senior centers. The council approved the proposal with no objections.

"The money came by formula, but the mayor fought to make sure that it got to the senior centers," Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers said. "There are many other things that it could have gone to."

An occasional look at the claims made in political advertising