- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003


Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle is demanding that Republicans stop showing their first television ad of the 2004 presidential race, which he called “repulsive and outrageous.”

The 30-second ad, featuring clips of President Bush during his State of the Union address last January, portrays the president as a fighter of terrorism as Democrats retreat.

“It’s wrong. It’s erroneous, and I think that they ought to pull the ad,” Mr. Daschle told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program yesterday.

“We all want to defeat terrorism,” the South Dakota senator said. But “to chastise and to question the patriotism of those who are in opposition to some of the president’s plans I think is wrong.”

The Republican National Committee has no plans to comply with Mr. Daschle’s demand.

“We have no doubt that Senator Daschle and others in his party who oppose the president’s policy of pre-emptive self-defense believe that their national-security approach is in the best interests of the country,” RNC spokesman Christine Iverson said.

“But we also have no doubt that they are wrong about that, and we will continue to highlight this critical policy difference, as well as others,” she said.

Other Democrats on the Sunday talk shows joined Mr. Daschle in his criticism.

Presidential candidate Wesley Clark said the ad is wrong and ought to be pulled. It violates “the pledge the president made to not exploit 9/11 for political purposes,” Mr. Clark, a retired Army general, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy called it an “attempt to stifle dissent.” On ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Kennedy said “dissent is a basic part of what our whole society is about.”

Speaking on CNN’s “Late Edition,” presidential candidate and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said the ad was misleading and nothing more than an attempt “to get the public’s mind off the joblessness in America, the bad prescription Medicare drug bill … the energy bill, which sells out to lobbyists.”

Republicans countered that there was nothing wrong with the ad, which was airing yesterday in Iowa, the day before the Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines.

“It’s portraying the president’s leadership that he’s displayed since September 11, which I support,” Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on ABC. “I think it’s a very legitimate statement to be made in the coming presidential election.”

The ad will air through tomorrow in Iowa, and then might run again in New Hampshire during the next Democratic debate in December, said the RNC’s Miss Iverson.

She said the party plans to run ads in conjunction with the Democratic debates, but the decision hasn’t been made whether to run the current ad or new ones supporting the president.

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