- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2004

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has called on the Kerry campaign to demand an independent political group remove from a new anti-Bush ad an image he says depicts an American soldier surrendering.

“It’s one thing to debate whether we should take the fight to the terrorist, but depicting an American soldier in effect surrendering in the battle against the terrorists is beyond the pale,” Mr. Dole said Thursday night, speaking on behalf of the White House.

“I cannot believe that John Kerry, who reminds us daily of his Vietnam service, would possibly approve the disgusting and demoralizing portrayal of American soldiers fighting for us in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.”

The ad by MoveOn.org, largely funded by anti-war Democrats, accuses Mr. Bush of lying to get the United States into the war with Iraq and blaming him for the 1,000 American deaths there as well as the $150 billion price tag.

“Going it alone, George Bush has spent $150 billion, money we need for schools and health care,” says the MoveOn.org ad, that includes the image of an American soldier sinking in desert sand as he tries to keep his rifle above his head.

MoveOn officials told the New York Times the ad was designed to call attention to the “very bad direction” the war in Iraq has taken and did not intend to imply the American soldier was surrendering. The Kerry campaign did not return calls for comment.

Meanwhile, the Bush campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday accusing the Federal Election Commission of failing to properly regulate the independent political groups — known as 527s for their section in the tax code.

The MoveOn.org ad was one of two new ads recently released by partisan independent political groups that attack the presidential candidates.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, largely funded by Republicans who accuse Mr. Kerry of deserting his fellow veterans in Vietnam, released an ad yesterday that shows Mr. Kerry throwing his military ribbons and another veteran’s combat medals on the steps of the Capitol in protest of the Vietnam War.

It portrays Mr. Kerry as an untrustworthy flip-flopper, a theme the Bush campaign has used throughout the campaign.

“I’ve been accurate precisely about what took place,” the ad opens with Mr. Kerry speaking during an interview.

In 1971, Mr. Kerry boasted that he had thrown away his war medals and ribbons.

“We threw away the symbols of what our country gave us,” Mr. Kerry says on screen. “And I’m proud of it.”

It wasn’t until about 15 years later that it was revealed that Mr. Kerry actually still had his medals and had thrown away those belonging to another veteran.

The ad closes with a narrator asking: “John Kerry — can you trust anything he says?”

The swift boat group says it is spending $500,000 airing the ad in Nevada, New Mexico and on some cable channels nationwide.

“Today we took another step in following through on the president’s commitment to stop all illegal 527 federal election activity,” said the campaign general counsel Tom Josefiak.

MoveOn.org’s ad uses lines from Mr. Kerry’s stump speeches when its narrator intones: “George Bush misled us into war with Iraq, sending poorly equipped soldiers into battle. He said, ‘Mission accomplished,’ yet almost every day more soldiers die.”

It also tries bringing the focus back to domestic issues — just as Mr. Kerry has been doing in recent weeks.

The ad closes by calling the Iraq war a “quagmire,” the term widely used to describe the Vietnam War after it was deemed unwinnable.

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