Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign issued a second mass fund-raising e-mail yesterday based on the Iraqi prisoner abuse situation amid Republican charges that the Democratic candidate is capitalizing on a national disgrace.
“Keep the ball rolling,” urged the e-mail from Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill. “Donate now!”
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said the photographs of prisoner abuse are “clearly disgusting, but it’s harder to find words to describe those whose first instinct upon seeing them is to raise campaign cash with them.”
In her e-mail yesterday, Ms. Cahill thanked supporters for their “amazing” response to her Friday e-mail in which she called for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s resignation and asked for campaign contributions.
Both e-mails included links for signing a petition calling for Mr. Rumsfeld’s removal and for raising campaign money. The “Donate now!” icon leads to a donation form allowing supporters to use a credit card to contribute online.
“You sent an incredibly powerful message to the Bush administration, the media and the public: Americans want accountability and responsibility at the highest levels of our government,” Ms. Cahill wrote yesterday. “On behalf of John Kerry, I want to thank you for speaking out.”
As the appeal for cash reached the Internet over the weekend, Republicans accused Mr. Kerry of profiteering on a national disgrace.
“Abuse of Iraqi prisoners by a few in our military will not be tolerated by this administration or by this Congress,” said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. “The use of the images of abuse in a prison in Iraq for Democrat fund-raising is worse than politically exploitative, it’s perverse.”
Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton said, “We’re not going to take a lecture on politicizing the war on terror from the Bush campaign.
“They’re the ones who put pictures of flag-draped coffins at ground zero in their television ads,” Mr. Clanton said. “They’re the ones who used photos of this president on Air Force One to raise money.”
The Democratic National Committee also fired back with Chairman Terry McAuliffe accusing Mr. Gillespie of “throwing stones from his glass house.”
“Let me get this straight,” spokesman Jano Cabrera said. “The same Republicans that raised money by selling 9/11 photos, used footage from the World Trade Center in TV ads and spent over a million dollars in taxpayer money on Bush’s photo-op aboard an aircraft carrier are accusing Democrats of politicizing the war?”
Mr. McAuliffe said Republicans are complaining about Mr. Kerry’s e-mail “to avoid the still unanswered, lingering questions about Bush’s foreign policy.”
Mr. Cabrera and Mr. McAuliffe said the Kerry campaign’s request for donations is “a standard contribution link” that appears throughout the RNC and DNC Web sites, even on Web pages dealing with the war on terror.