DeWine blunder adds fuel to controversial September 11 ad
A controversial TV campaign ad for Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine featuring video of the burning World Trade Center towers after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was doctored, U.S. News has learned. The television spot, which has been lambasted by critics as political exploitation, attacks DeWine's Democratic challenger, Rep. Sherrod Brown, for being weak on national security.
On the air in major Ohio markets since last Friday, the ad showed the towers, with the south building billowing smoke, which gradually drifts upward. In the video, the north tower, which was struck first on September 11, is undamaged.
"This particular image is impossible," says W. Gene Corley, a stuctural engineer who led the Federal Emergency Management Agency's building performance study of the World Trade Center after the attacks. Corley reviewed the ad at www.brownvotes.com for U.S. News. "The north tower was hit first, [so] the south tower could not be burning without the north tower burning." Corley says. "The smoke is all wrong." The day of the attacks, the plumes of ash were drifting to the southeast. "The smoke on 9/11 was never in a halo like that," he added.
DeWine's office acknowledged the error. "The senator was unaware that the image of the towers was a graphic representation and has instructed the campaign to replace the footage with a picture of the twin towers," his office said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
DeWine spokesman Brian Seitchik says the image of the burning towers in the ad was a still photo with computer-generated smoke added.
In a sign of how politically charged the issue of politicizing the September 11 attacks has become, DeWine's camp promised that a newly edited version would be produced immediately and released as early as Thursday.
The new ad will feature images of the World Trade Center before the September 11 attacks without smoke. Despite the controversy, DeWine's campaign is standing by the TV spot. "The factual basis of the ad is well documented," Seitchik says. "There is a fundamental difference between Sherrod Brown and Mike DeWine on national secuirty issues, and this ad was about shining a spotlight on that."
The ad is "shameful," says Joanna Kuebler, Brown's campaign communication director. "Instead of being honest and engaged in discussion with voters and the media ... [DeWine's] exploiting an American tragedy, and now we find out that even that's a distortion."