The White House yesterday distanced itself from a political ad that questions John Kerry’s Vietnam service and called on the Democratic presidential nominee to join President Bush in demanding an “immediate cessation” of all advertisements by outside groups.
“We have not and will not question Senator Kerry’s service in Vietnam,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One. “The president is calling for an immediate cessation to all the unregulated soft money activity.”
He added: “We hope the Kerry campaign will join us.”
The TV ad features 13 Vietnam veterans who say Mr. Kerry, a Navy lieutenant who earned three Purple Hearts and was awarded a Silver Star and a Bronze Star in four months of action, lied to obtain his medals.
The ad was produced by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, one of many third-party political organizations that have sprung up to skirt new campaign-finance restrictions.
The Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee called the ad’s message “an outrageous, inflammatory lie,” and have sent a letter to TV stations asking them not to run it.
Campaign spokesman Chad Clanton brushed aside Mr. Bush’s challenge to end third-party “soft money” ads, and said the president must answer for the new ad.
“We’re glad to have a discussion about campaign finance reform. But it’s disingenuous for the Bush campaign to hide behind this partisan group that’s trying to tear down John Kerry’s distinguished military service record,” Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton said. “It’s a reminder of why this White House has lost credibility.”
The ad comes a week after Mr. Kerry spent much of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention referencing his service in Vietnam, saying those months taught him about patriotism, values and religion.
The ad also comes as a Rasmussen poll shows military veterans supporting Mr. Bush over Mr. Kerry by a margin of 58 percent to 35 percent, despite the Massachusetts Democrat’s numerous combat medals.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth says the 13 veterans who speak were close enough to witness the events that led Mr. Kerry to receive the medals.
“John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam,” veteran George Elliott says in the 60-second ad, which is scheduled to air in Ohio, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
“I know John Kerry is lying about his first Purple Heart because I treated him for that injury,” adds veteran Louis Letson.
“John Kerry lied to get his Bronze Star,” says veteran Van O’Dell. “I know, I was there, I saw what happened.”
The Kerry campaign is calling Swift Boat Veterans for Truth “a sham organization” and the men who speak on the ad “phony.”View Entire Story
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