GOP Billboard Back on Track, Agency Says

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The outdoor advertising agency which backed out of a contract with the Republican National Committee said Wednesday it will now honor its contract for a billboard set to appear outside Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign headquarters.

Outdoor Systems, Inc. Director of Communications Tom Wisz told CNSNews.com that the company will honor its original contract with the RNC, placing a billboard outside Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.

The billboard, less than 200 yards from Gore's office, remained in limbo Tuesday night after OSI sold the advertisement to the GOP and then refused at the last minute to follow through on its agreement due to the ad content.

The billboard showed a photograph of President Bill Clinton hugging Gore and included a caption reading 'One of Our Greatest Presidents," a statement made by Gore following the December 19, 1998 vote by the House of Representatives to impeach Clinton on two counts.

Wisz said the billboard is set to appear at the end of this month.

Contacted early Wednesday afternoon, RNC Communications Director Mike Collins told CNSNews.com that he learned through the media of OSI's willingness to re-enter the deal.

"(OSI) indicated through the press a willingness to allow the billboard, but they indicated to me that they wanted a modification of the contract we had with them," Collins said.

Mark Peterson, sales manager for Outdoor System's Nashville office, told CNSNews.com that the last minute decision to cancel the contract was made by "upper management," who rejected the billboard because "we're not going to be a vehicle for negative advertising.

Wisz likened installing the ad near Gore's campaign headquarters to placing a Burger King ad next to a McDonalds. But Wisz added that free speech eventually prevailed.

"We try to find some middle ground in the placement of advertisement copy," Wisz said. "In this case, obviously the Republicans were bound and determined that they wanted that location," Wisz said, citing a "freedom of speech issue."

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