Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Barbers give Dodd a good cut

SUMMARY: Dodd's TV ads are correct that the Connecticut senator was the prime sponsor of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which passed with bipartisan support.

In two new TV ads, Chris Dodd's campaign once again lets barbers do the talking.

The ads use two fictional barbers who were filmed at a real barber shop in Winterset, Iowa. The setting is a tweak at John Edwards, who was criticized for spending $400 on a haircut.

One ad begins with the barbers watching an Edwards ad on TV. "We need a President who's about results," says one.

"Why not Dodd?!" they say in unison.

One barber pipes up, "It's Dodd who authored the Family and Medical Leave Act and had to bring Democrats and Republicans together." The other ad is much the same, except they're watching a spot for Hillary Clinton and suddenly launch into a conversation about the Family and Medical Leave Act.

When we began checking the Dodd ad, we expected to find the same kind of exaggeration we have seen in similar ads for other candidates. They often overstate their accomplishments. But we found that Dodd and his fan club of barbers were accurately describing his role in this one.

Dodd first introduced the bill in 1985 and it became law in 1993, more than seven years later. It allows workers to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child or the illness of a close family member.

It's fair for Dodd to say that he had to work hard to get the bill passed. It was stymied by a Republican filibuster in the Senate in 1988. It fared better in 1990, passing both chambers, but the first President Bush vetoed it. The veto was sustained, and the issue was off the table for the session.

Later, in 1991, Dodd found a critical ally in Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri. They negotiated changes that would make the legislation more palatable to the business community and bring more support from Republicans. The bill cleared in 1992, only to be vetoed again by Bush.

Again, the veto was not overridden. Finally, in 1993 the legislation cleared for the third time and President Clinton signed it into law.

When it passed, the States News Service quoted Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill. saying "Dodd has been a bulldog on this."