Saturday, September 15, 2007

Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani took Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to task in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times yesterday for failing to denounce‘s criticism of Iraq war commander Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign said they were charged the same discounted rate that the liberal advocacy group paid for an ad published Monday in the Times that accused Gen. Petraeus of “cooking the books” on the war and asked, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?”

Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella declined to say how much the ad cost, but MoveOn has said it paid $65,000 — about $117,000 less than the Times’ standard rate for an ad of that type and size.

The American Conservative Union filed a complaint yesterday with the Federal Election Commission against the Times and MoveOn, contending the discount was, in effect, an illegal corporate soft money contribution to a political committee.

Meanwhile, the conservative advocacy group Freedom’s Watch is demanding the same discounted rate from the Times.

The group says it paid “significantly more” for another full-page ad Tuesday on the 9/11 anniversary. That ad, however, was a more expensive full-page color ad, compared to MoveOn’s, which was black and white.

Freedom’s Watch also says it plans to air TV ads denouncing MoveOn’s criticisms of Gen. Petraeus.

Mr. Giuliani’s ad accused the New York senator of participating in a character attack against Gen. Petraeus, citing her comments during a congressional hearing that the general’s progress report on Iraq required a “willing suspension of disbelief.”

“Who should America listen to … A decorated soldier’s commitment to defending America, or Hillary Clinton’s commitment to defending” the ad states.

The ad quotes Mr. Giuliani as saying; “These times call for statesmanship, not politicians spewing political venom.”

A Web site address for Mr. Guiliani’s campaign appears at the bottom of the ad.

Gen. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker told Congress during hearings on Capitol Hill this week that while Iraq remains dysfunctional, violence has decreased since the influx of 30,000 additional troops earlier this year.

Clinton campaign spokesman Phil Singer said Mr. Giuliani is attacking Mrs. Clinton because the former New York City mayor “is dropping in the polls and is unable to defend his own support for George Bush’s failed war.

“Instead of distorting Senator Clinton’s record in the campaign’s first attack ad, the mayor should tell voters why he thinks sticking with the Bush Iraq strategy makes sense. The country wants change and while Hillary Clinton is focused on ending the war, Mayor Giuliani is playing politics.”

MoveOn will continue its criticism of Mr. Bush’s Iraq war policy in a TV ad scheduled to begin running nationally Monday.

The ad, which criticizes Mr. Bush’s promise to withdraw 30,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by next summer by saying it will do nothing to end the war, is the first in a series called “George Bush: Betrayal of Trust.”

Mr. Bush has “given us a sham draw-down plan,” said Nita Chaudhary of Political Action. “It’s just a political scheme to provide cover for Republicans and [to] run out the clock to the end of his term.”

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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