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Fight Back Against Sound Bites, Mud

Beware the campaign ads of fall. They’re worse than ever this year.

In its attempt to elect sympathetic Democrats, the AFL-CIO has spent millions on television “information” ads, distorting the records of Republicans.

The Republicans, of course, have the money, motive and mud to be equally disingenuous.

In Idaho, for example, the U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Larry Craig and Democratic challenger Walt Minnick has degenerated into a mud-wrestling match. Craig TV ads stretch the truth by saying Minnick is bankrolled by “New York millionaires.” And Minnick’s ads lie that Craig “supports a plan under which 41 foreign nations will send their nuclear waste to Idaho.”

You can protect yourself from such propaganda - by seeing for yourself where the candidates stand on issues. It’s easy to do.

One of the best ways to form an opinion is to attend a candidate forum.

For example, the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring public forums on several major races. They’re held each Friday morning through Oct. 25 at The Met downtown and taped for broadcast by KXLY Extra!, Cox Cable 14.

The Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce has scheduled forums tonight, Tuesday and Thursday at City Hall for state initiatives and legislative races in Districts 2 through 4. The forums will be televised live on Cablevision 13 beginning at 6 p.m.

At the national level, the presidential debates are must-see political TV. So is C-Span, which gives you unfiltered access to the Clinton and Dole campaigns, congressional hearings and other major political news.

Also, you can contact local party headquarters for information. Such information is partisan, but helpful when compared with brochures from opposing candidates.

Then, there’s the Internet, which provides unlimited access to legislation and major and minor parties and candidates - all of it, a few mouse clicks away.

There’s no excuse to be duped by sound bites.

If you can’t find good information on political candidates and issues, you aren’t looking very hard.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board