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by Wendy Vapors, 2/11/00

Dc: This is DCR, a news program that's literally incredible. The Burstyn-Spleen race continues in the Enough! Party, even though some impatient party regulars are calling for Governor Burstyn to drop out. Since the two candidates began practicing Extreme Disclosure, openly aligning themselves with specific companies and various industry groups, the responses favor Spleen in all aspects. Sales. Market Share. Stock Price. And even votes. But Governor Burstyn says he will not give up, and he has launched a new effort, using ground meat to make up some of the ground he's lost. Wendy Vapors reports.

(sfx: rally, w/ crowd and brass band)

Wendy: On a bright morning earlier this week, Governor Dick Burstyn was up early to cut a ribbon, opening a new Plains Patty Buffalo Burger Restaurant in East Windswept, North Dakota.

(music: band stops)
(sfx: crowd quiets down)

Burstyn: I am pleased to announce ... a new campaign partner. A partner to be proud of ... a partner pleased to pay the price a partner pays to play politics, and a pretty popular place ... Plains Patty's Buffalo Burgers!

(sfx: crowd up and down)

I'm gonna be proud to wear the Plains Patty Buffalo Burger right here on my lapel. They're perfectly pressed, they're pure, and they're a whole lot prettier to Lunar Burgers, I can tell you that!

(sfx: crowd up)
(music: band up and fade under)

Wendy: Governor Burstyn's decision to stick with extreme disclosure and accept soft money contributions from Plains Patty's is a risky one for the candidate AND for the restaurant chain. Political marketing expert Terry Beal.

Beal: For Burstyn it's a last gasp. He's down in every way you can measure a candidate's progress ... even in votes. Some say that thanks to the financial alliances he's made with Industrial Sludge Producers, Sprawling Medical and the Drunken Boating Lobby, he's the most hated man in America. By contrast, his opponent, Senator Spleen, has such good brands. Dizco. Friendly Cola. Lunar Burgers. People feel very warmly towards him.

Wendy: I had heard that some of Burstyn's supporters were begging him NOT to mention their names as part of his campaign, and NOT to wear their logos on his suit.

Beal: Absolutely. But when he agreed to do extreme disclosure, Burstyn, in effect, cornered himself. He can't back out now. What surprises me is Plains Patty's getting involved at this point. That's a mystery.

Wendy: Fast food industry observers say the Plains Patty's Chain has suffered ever since a 1996 outbreak of Sad Cow Disease in the Montana ranch land where much of it's beef originates.

Sturgeon: (phone) Study after study has shown that even if you eat a hamburger that came from an animal afflicted with Sad Cow disease, it won't make YOU sad. In fact, you can eat a hundred of them and stay downright cheerful. But people don't believe it. And so the Plains Patty's market share ... tanked.

Wendy: Barbara Sturgeon editor of "Ground Brief," a burger industry newsletter.

Sturgeon: Plains Patty's took a radical step and switched over to buffalo meat. They were hoping that would pull them out, but it hasn't worked.

Wendy: I had a buffalo burger once and kinda liked it.

Sturgeon: Getting people to try it ... that's the challenge. And maybe that's what they're up to here, trying to find a way to vault into direct competition with Lunar Burgers. Burstyn's hurting but he's still on stage.
What do they have to lose?

(sfx: crowd)

Wendy: At rallies out on the campaign trail this week, Governor Burstyn was making the most of his new alliance ... with encouraging results.

Burstyn: Are you bigger around today than you were four years ago? My opponent has aligned himself with tired old fatty meat! He is in the pocket of the beef industry! So he's not gonna tell you about cholesterol. He's not gonna say anything about Sad Cow. But there's a new meat in the land ... with a pedigree that goes back to a time when the plains were rich with bison! That's real meat! Red meat! High in protein! Low in fat! More American than beef!
And to show you we mean business ... let's help ourselves to free Plains Patties buffalo burgers for everyone! Come on up, folks! There is such a thing as a free lunch! And it's on me!

(sfx: crowd up)

Come on, everybody! Bring the kids!

Wendy: Right now, when the crowds are small, the "free meal" strategy seems to be changing some minds for Governor Burstyn.

Ordinary Citizen #1: I don't like politicians. And I don't care all that much for burgers. But this buffalo burger ... it's different.

Ordinary Citizen #2: I went to a Spleen rally and they gave me a window sticker and some bookmarks. This is better.

Ordinary Citizen #3: This is gonna be dinner for us. And it's not at all gamey. That's a pleasant surprise.

Wendy: But do you feel like your vote is being bought?

Ordinary Citizen #3: If I had to go out and buy this for a family of four it would be at least $15, so yes, I feel like my vote is being bought and I'm happy to sell it for that amount. Look, they even have a relish bar here.

Wendy: But can Governor Burstyn afford to do enough of this to make a difference? And what sort of relish do you put on buffalo meat anyway? And what about fries?
Politicians say the key to a successful campaign is giving the swing voters enough red meat to move them to the polls. With his new financial alliance, Burstyn appears to be doing just that, and he may still have a chance in the Enough! Party. I'm Wendy Vapors, and I'm reporting.

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