Ads put out by the campaigns of Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Elizabeth Dole address each candidate's stances on issues such as Social Security and minimum wage.
Though after winning the Republican primary Dole proposed an ad-free campaign to avoid a campaign season filled with negative ads and personal attacks, both she and Bowles have aired ads criticizing the other's positions.
Bowles accused Dole in a television ad of wanting "to gamble Social Security money in the stock market though it would reduce guaranteed benefits for retirees."
In a separate ad defending Dole's Social Security record, a narrator associates Bowles with the troubled administration of former President Clinton by questioning where he learned his negative tactics, then replying, "Bill Clinton's White House."
Bowles served as Clinton's chief of staff from 1996-98.
But Dole's press secretary, Janet Bradbury, said Dole is setting the record straight in her ads. "I haven't thought of Mrs. Dole's ads as negative," she said. "She has had to set the record straight. There have been some attack ads. Mrs. Dole was trying to avoid this by forgoing ads in favor of debates being broadcast."
Bowles will continue to focus his ads on differences on issues, said his press secretary, Susan Lagana. "We believe the race is going to be won on issues, focusing on issues that Dole and Bowles disagree on, such as Social Security." she said."We will continue to talk about where Dole stands and where Erskine stands."
Experts say the negative campaigning is not out of hand and is beneficial to voters still undecided about who to support.
The ads have not been disruptive to the election process, said Ferrel Guillory, director of the UNC Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life. "They have started attacking, but they haven't descended into attacking character," he said. "They are still on issues."