- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Billionaire financier George Soros, who has spent $13 million on advertising to defeat President Bush in the November elections, promised yesterday to spend up to $3 million more on a new advertising campaign and nationwide speaking tour aimed at bashing the president.

During a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Mr. Soros said he planned speaking engagements in several U.S. cities over the next few weeks, would mail at least 2 million brochures in an effort to persuade recipients to vote against Mr. Bush, and would establish a Web page to answer questions from undecided voters.

The Hungarian native, now a U.S. citizen, said he also planned two-page centerfold ads in the Wall Street Journal and other local newspapers today, targeting Republicans and influential business leaders. He said he hoped to intensify his recent attacks on Mr. Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq.

“The situation in Iraq is dire because we are damned if we stay and we are even more damned if we pull out,” Mr. Soros said. “We have got to find an orderly exit. And I think [Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry] is much better situated than President Bush, and his approach, which is that you have to find a political solution and you can’t do it only by military means, is the right answer.”

The new ad campaign was immediately criticized by the Republican National Committee, which described it as an act of “desperation.”

“The only explanation for the Daddy Warbucks of the Democratic Party, George Soros, to step out from behind the curtain 35 days before the election is his obvious concerns for his investment in John Kerry,” RNC spokesman Jim Dyke said.

“And the only explanation for the Kerry campaign’s public embrace of a man who says the president’s words conjure up memories of Nazi Germany, spends his millions supporting marijuana legalization, softer penalties for drug dealers doing business around schools and euthanasia liberalization is desperation,” he said.

Mr. Soros has contributed heavily to liberal-leaning “527” organizations, which are tax-exempt groups that engage in political activities, often through unlimited “soft money” contributions. They are not regulated by the Federal Election Commission unless they have a political action committee, creating a soft money loophole.

FEC regulation limits campaigns to $2,000 per candidate from an individual annually and PACs to a maximum of $5,000 from an individual annually. A number of 527 groups have poured tens of millions of unregulated dollars into efforts to defeat Mr. Bush.

Among the big Democratic donors to 527s, Peter B. Lewis, chairman of the Progressive Corp., has given $14.2 million and Mr. Soros has contributed $12.6 million. The two men top the chart of individual contributors to 527s this year.

Mr. Soros’ 527 donations also have gone to MoveOn.org, a stridently anti-Bush group known for its ads comparing Mr. Bush to Adolf Hitler, former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta’s new think tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), and to America Coming Together (ACT), a get-out-the Democratic vote operation.

His 12-city speaking tour will begin next week in Pennsylvania and, running through Oct. 26, will travel to the battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Minnesota. The tour is sponsored by Fenton Communications, a public relations firm that handles MoveOn.org as one of its top clients. Fenton’s chairman, David Fenton, attended the press club event.

“Top Republicans claim, without a shred of evidence, that al Qaeda wants John Kerry to be elected president,” Mr. Soros said. “There is no truth or evidence for this outrageous assertion. There must be something wrong with us if we believe it … Wake up America. We must realize we are being misled.”

Retired NATO commander Wesley Clark, himself a former Democratic presidential candidate, introduced Mr. Soros at the event. Gen. Clark described the billionaire financier as a visionary leader who “has some very, very important points of view to share with you.”

“I may not agree with all of them,” Gen. Clark said. “I didn’t write them, but I strongly support the importance of his point of view and getting this debate engaged in the right way.”

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