Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A veterans group opposed to Sen. John Kerry’s presidential bid is initiating one of its largest ad campaigns to date with a TV spot portraying Mr. Kerry as an enemy sympathizer during the Vietnam War.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — which first raised questions about Mr. Kerry’s Vietnam record — says it’s spending $1.3 million in targeted battleground states with an ad focusing on what it said was an unauthorized meeting Mr. Kerry had in 1970 with North Vietnamese communists even while American soldiers were still fighting in Vietnam.

“Our newest ad highlights a continuing pattern by Senator Kerry of placing his personal ambitions above the interests of our nation,” said John O’Neill, author of “Unfit for Command,” a book about Mr. Kerry’s Vietnam service. “When he secretly met with the enemy in 1970, he did so at great detriment to his fellow sailors, to our POWs and our nation. He undermined the war effort, giving the enemy greater resolve and determination.”

The ad will begin airing today for six days on national cable networks and local stations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Nevada and New Mexico — states viewed as crucial by both presidential campaigns.

The new Swift Boat ad, titled “Friends,” highlights Mr. Kerry’s work alongside anti-war icon Jane Fonda and quotes Mr. Kerry’s congressional testimony that he had met with Vietnamese communist representatives. “I have been to Paris,” Mr. Kerry said. “I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government.”

The Kerry campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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