- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

A measure to condemn a newspaper advertisement by the liberal group MoveOn.org for its criticism of Iraq war commander Gen. David H. Petraeus was approved overwhelmingly by the House yesterday.

The nonbinding resolution, which passed by a vote of 341-79, also praised the work and patriotism of Gen. Petraeus.

The “resolution condemns in the strongest possible terms the unfair, personal attacks made by the advocacy group MoveOn.org on the character, integrity and professionalism of General David Petraeus,” said Rep. Jerry Lewis, the California Republican who sponsored the measure. “Such unwarranted attacks should be strongly condemned by Republicans and Democrats in the House.”

No Republicans voted against the resolution, which was attached to a stopgap measure to continue funding government operations for the next six weeks. Seventy-nine Democrats voted against it.

The Senate passed a similar resolution last week by a vote of 72-25, with 24 Democrats and one independent opposing it.

“More than three-quarters of the House went on record today in support of our armed forces,” said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican. “My only disappointment is that a message as important and clear-cut as this couldn’t attract the support of every member of this chamber.”

The full-page ad featured a photo of the general and the headline “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” It was published in the New York Times on Sept. 10, when Gen. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker began two days of testimony to Congress on the progress of the Iraq war.

It also accused Gen. Petraeus of “cooking the books” on the war.

MoveOn paid $65,000, about $117,000 less than the Times’ “open rate” for an ad of that type and size.

Republicans called the discount akin to an illegal in-kind political contribution. The Times said the advertising rate given to MoveOn was similar to those for other advocacy ads.

Republican candidates and fundraising committees used the ad to attack opponents.

“The fact that Democrats have not been able to take this issue head-on and [condemn the ad] continues to make it an issue that Republicans can use,” said a Republican aide who didn’t want to be identified.

The tactic also has benefited at least one Democrat. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis announced yesterday that it was refunding about $12,000 to the campaign of Al Franken, a Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican, after undercharging Mr. Coleman for a full-page ad.

The Star Tribune said it charged Mr. Coleman about $20,000 for an ad Tuesday that criticized Mr. Franken for not condemning the MoveOn ad. Two months ago, the newspaper charged Mr. Franken about $32,000 for a full-page ad criticizing Mr. Coleman’s record on the Iraq war.

Star Tribune spokesman Ben Taylor said yesterday that a new sales representative had quoted the Coleman campaign an incorrect rate.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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