McCain Urges Bush To Condemn "Swift Veterans For Truth" Ad
A new TV ad launched by the group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacking Sen. John Kerry's war record received ample media attention last night and this morning, after Sen. John McCain denounced it as "dishonest and dishonorable" and called on the White House to condemn it. In an interview with the AP, McCain called the ad "the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," comparing it to "tactics in his bitter Republican primary fight with President Bush." McCain "said that's all in the past to him, but he's speaking out against the anti-Kerry ad because 'it reopens all the old wounds of the Vietnam War, which I spent the last 35 years trying to heal.'" The Miami Herald reports McCain "came to the rescue of John Kerry's presidential campaign," while the Washington Post notes the Arizona Senator "has become a central, if sometimes reluctant, figure in the campaign for both sides." Kerry "courted him as a potential running mate after McCain defended Kerry's war record on national television," and at rallies, the Democratic Senator "frequently cites his relationship with McCain as evidence of bipartisanship."
Of the three networks, only CBS Evening News covered the story, noting that a "presidential spokesman chose not to condemn the ad, but emphasized that the Bush campaign had nothing to do with it, and does not question Kerry's war record." The New York Times reports Nicolle Devenish, Bush's campaign communications director, "did not address the content of the advertisement," while the Washington Times says the White House "called on the Democratic presidential nominee to join President Bush in demanding an 'immediate cessation' of all advertisements by outside groups." In that story, White House spokesman Scott McClellan is quoted saying, "We have not and will not question Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam."
The story got plenty of play on local TV newscasts, where most reports outlined the allegations in the ad in addition to mentioning McCain's remarks. Typical of the coverage was WSYX-TV of Columbus, Ohio, which said in its newscast that the ad "is not from the Bush campaign, but rather a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. These Vietnam vets claim to have served alongside Kerry and say he's lying about his service." Meanwhile, KMBC-TV of Kansas City, Missouri reported "one of Kerry's biggest selling points is his Vietnam war service. Now men who fought side by side with Kerry are calling him a liar." In Albuquerque, New Mexico, KRQE-TV also reported the ad "is not being endorsed by the Bush campaign. . . . The ad features veterans who served in the same unit as Kerry in Vietnam saying he cheated and lied to get his purple hearts."
Kerry Camp "Suggests" Karl Rove Behind Ad. Fox News reported last night that the Kerry campaign "strongly suggests without presenting any solid proof that Karl Rove is behind the effort. The White House says that simply is not the case."
Kerry Camp Asks TV Stations Not To Run "Outrageous, Inflammatory Lie."
The Washington Times reports this morning the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee "called the ad's message 'an outrageous, inflammatory lie,' and have sent a letter to TV stations asking them not to run it."
Ad Buy Cost $500,000.
The AP reports Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "bought $500,000 of airtime for the 60-second ad to air in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio and West Virginia."