- The Washington Times - Monday, September 27, 2004

The Bush-Cheney campaign rolled out a new ad yesterday that hammers Sen. John Kerry for making inconsistent statements about the war in Iraq, a possible preview of President Bush’s line of attack in Thursday’s presidential debate.

Mr. Kerry’s campaign has responded with an ad accusing the president of “despicable politics” and employing “an un-American way to campaign,” taking quotes from an editorial in Saturday’s New York Times. Another ad attacks Mr. Bush’s trip to the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, when he declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

That visit to the aircraft carrier under a banner reading “Mission Accomplished” once was thought to be fodder for a Bush campaign ad, but it has turned into a political embarrassment because hostilities in Iraq have increased significantly since then.

The new Bush ad, which will join the rotation of other TV spots running on national cable networks and locally in more than a dozen states, quotes Mr. Kerry as saying the “winning of the war was brilliant,” “I have always said that we may yet find weapons of mass destruction” and “When the president made the decision, I supported him.”

In between those quotes, the ad shows Mr. Kerry calling Iraq “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time” and making other disparaging remarks about the conflict.

The Kerry campaign says that the Republicans are taking some of the senator’s words out of context and that the president has proved with his recent rhetoric that he “just doesn’t get it.”

“Using the president’s recent comments about doing the ‘mission accomplished event’ all over again, the 30-second spot reveals what George Bush uses attacks and his fantasyland descriptions to hide — that he does not see the problems in Iraq or have a plan to deal with them,” Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer said yesterday.

Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel said the newest Kerry ad is a dishonest attack.

“John Kerry is falsely attacking the president for thanking the men and women of the USS Abraham Lincoln for their service,” Mr. Stanzel said.

Mr. Bush himself took a jab at Mr. Kerry yesterday, picking up the theme of his newest ad by saying that the Democrat “probably could spend 90 minutes debating himself.”

The back and forth of each camp’s political ads is expected to intensify.

The Kerry campaign made an ad buy in 14 states with which it will criticize the president for quipping at a press conference last week that the “right track, wrong track” polls in Iraq are better than in the United States.

Mr. Singer said the Democrats’ ad with the New York Times editorial will run on national cable networks and locally in battleground states, but would not comment on which ones the campaign still considers to be in play.

The Kerry campaign largely has retreated from Missouri, Iowa, Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana, states that were considered to be up for grabs less than eight weeks ago.

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