Rendell Airs Fiery Move Ad

Posted: May 01, 1987

In a television commercial depicting flames and smoke, Edward G. Rendell dramatically raised yesterday what had been the almost silent issue in the mayor's race - the MOVE confrontation on May 13, 1985, in which six adults and five children were killed.

Down in the polls with less than three weeks to go before the Democratic primary, the former district attorney is gambling that by raising the potentially explosive issue, he will not alienate voters and raise sympathy for Mayor Goode.

The 30-second TV spot, which aired twice yesterday and which Rendell aides said would be rebroadcast several times, shows a rooftop view of the burning houses and suggests that MOVE is the only thing Goode will be remembered for.

"It's a shame that Mr. Rendell has stooped this low," Goode said last night in reaction to the commercial.

Rendell, in explaining the commercial, said last night, "It's appropriate. It's part of the mayor's race. It happened. I said I would talk about Goode's record."

Rendell had said previously that while MOVE was a legitimate campaign issue, he saw no need to make it a major one. He had said that anyone who had watched the incident unfold live on television did not need to be reminded of it by him.

"He asked us not to judge him on the events of one day," a mature male voice says at the outset of the commercial. "But ever since the MOVE tragedy, Wilson Goode's administration has become unraveled - mismanagement, embarrassments, broken promises, a loss of public trust. In the end, he'll only be remembered for one thing. We can't re-elect him."

That is the full text. The commercial moves from shots of newspaper headlines to a twilight scene of the MOVE fire. There is the crackling and rushing noise of flames.

Sources in the Rendell campaign said yesterday that Rendell had considered airing the commercial only on May 12 and May 13, the second anniversary of the MOVE confrontation.


Its introduction yesterday came one day after the airing of a 30-second spot blasting Goode for one of his ads introduced last week. The Goode ad said that Rendell had "kept an innocent man on death row" in a case involving Neal Ferber, who was accused of murder. The ad contended that "the police said the conviction was wrong, but Rendell refused to admit his mistake."

Ferber's own attorney, Dennis J. Cogan, said that the ad was "highly inaccurate" and that it was the Police Department that was "largely responsible" for the time Ferber spent in jail.

Rendell's retort, which aired for a second day yesterday, told viewers that ''if you've been following Wilson Goode's deceptive campaign ads, this new one is the most insulting."

Both the Rendell ads were prepared by Neil A. Oxman, who worked for Goode in the 1983 mayoral campaign.

"I approved it," Rendell said of the MOVE ad. ". . . I think it's very fair. There's nothing in the ad that is inaccurate."


There had been reports of concern among strategists for Rendell - as well as those for Republican candidates Frank L. Rizzo and John J. Egan Jr. - that a MOVE commercial could backlash.

"I don't think there will be any backlash," Rendell said last night.

Last week, during a televised debate with Goode, Rendell couched in broader terms his criticism of the MOVE fire. The fire broke out when police dropped a bomb on the roof of a fortress house occupied by members of the radical cult MOVE and their children.

"I said the entire MOVE incident - the planning, the events of May 13 and the rebuilding (of the 61 homes) - stands as a monument to Wilson Goode's incompetence," Rendell said last night, remembering exactly what he had said.

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