- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2003

The Republican National Committee will run its first issue-oriented campaign ad in Iowa this weekend, just in time for the Democratic debate there.

“The RNC will continue to highlight the differences between the two parties on policy after policy that will provide the American people a clear choice in the next election,” RNC chief Ed Gillespie said.

The ad will air in five markets throughout the state from tomorrow to Tuesday, attempting to contradict the policies of the Democratic presidential candidates’ stance against the war in Iraq and the party’s unanimous support for tax increases. Broadcasting the commercial will cost the GOP roughly $100,000, the committee said.

In two weeks, either the same ad or a new one will show in New Hampshire, again timing with another Democratic debate there, an RNC official said.

The ad mostly consists of text from President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address on the war and terrorism: “Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists” flashes in bright letters across the screen.

The Democratic National Committee said the ad shows that the Republicans are scared.

“I do know that the Republicans are nervous because even Republicans are criticizing President Bush for not having a plan on Iraq before going in,” a DNC spokesman said. “The Republicans have not offered one example of who they mean by critics. We’d like to know who they mean by critics.”

The Democratic presidential candidates were quick to respond to the ad, and all of them have issued statements denouncing the RNC message.

“The Republican National Committee’s new ad is misleading, and it implies that Democrats across the country are not committed to fighting terrorism,” North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said.

Mr. Bush’s statements are parsed with a voice-over criticizing the Democrats’ anti-war position and appear to hit Democrats for not being realistic about how a war on terrorism should be fought.

“The RNC is using this ad to disguise the truth. … The recent attacks in Turkey show that the terrorists are growing stronger,” Mr. Edwards said.

While Mr. Edwards addressed the commercial’s war rhetoric, other candidates such as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean retaliated with statements about Bush scare tactics and special interest ties to the Iraqi clean-up efforts.

“The ads show the fear-mongering that George Bush and Karl Rove are going to use, with their $200 million in special interest money, to try to distort what we are fighting for in this election,” he said.

Mr. Dean then used the ad as a way to get money from supporters by establishing a “putting up the bat” campaign on his Web site to raise $360,000 by midnight Tuesday or $5,000 for every hour the Bush ads are running.

Sen. John Kerry, who launched his own advertisement attacking pharmaceutical companies and the health insurance industry this week, called the Bush ads, “the height of hypocrisy for the Republican Party.”

“We don’t need another commercial; we need a commander in chief who will stand up to make America stronger and safer by working with our allies to fight the war on terror and win the peace in Iraq,” the Massachusetts Democrat said.

Wesley Clark called the ad “off base.”

“I’m attacking the president because he is not attacking terrorists; he’s distracted us from fighting terrorists,” Mr. Clark said during a conference call with reporters. “This war in Iraq is a war we didn’t have to fight and has nothing to do with terrorists.”

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