- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 21, 2004


Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s campaign released a video yesterday comparing the controversy over Mr. Kerry’s Vietnam service to attacks on Sen. John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries.

In a related development yesterday, a former POW resigned as a volunteer in the Bush campaign after it was learned that he had appeared in an advertisement put out by Swift Boat veterans questioning Mr. Kerry’s wartime record. The Bush campaign has claimed no connection with the group.

The video, sent by the Kerry campaign via e-mail to supporters, says, “George Bush is up to his old tricks” and shows then-Texas Gov. George Bush and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at a debate in February 2000.

Mr. McCain, sitting next to Mr. Bush, says that when “fringe veterans groups” attacked him at a Bush campaign function, Mr. Bush stood by and didn’t say a word. Mr. McCain says a group of senators wrote Mr. Bush a letter that said: “Apologize. You should be ashamed.”

Mr. McCain, a Vietnam veteran, says Mr. Bush “really went over the line.”

“I don’t know how you can understand this, George, but that really hurts,” Mr. McCain says.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group funded in part by a top Republican donor in Texas, has been running ads featuring veterans who served in Vietnam at the same time as Mr. Kerry and question his wartime record.

Those critics are being challenged by a Chicago Tribune editor who was on the Feb. 28, 1969, mission for which Mr. Kerry received the Silver Star.

William Rood, 61, said he decided to break his silence about the mission because recent reports of Mr. Kerry’s actions in that battle are incorrect and darken the reputations of veterans who served with the senator.

“The critics have taken pains to say they’re not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us,” Mr. Rood said in a 1,700-word first-person account published in today’s edition of the Tribune. “It’s gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there.”

Meanwhile, retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier resigned as a member of the Bush campaign’s veterans’ steering committee after it was learned that he appeared with other former POWs in the 30-second commercial.

“Col. Cordier did not inform the campaign of his involvement in the advertisement,” the Bush campaign said. “Because of his involvement [with the group], Col. Cordier will no longer participate as a volunteer for Bush-Cheney ‘04.”

Col. Cordier spent six years in a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp.

“The president has made it repeatedly clear that he wants to see an end to all” advertising from outside groups, Bush campaign spokesman Brian Jones said.

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