Kerry and Dean Begin Counterattack to RNC Ad
Either as a sign of desperation at falling poll numbers, or an attempt to test drive a theme for next year at a small cost of only $100,000, the Republican National Committee began running an ad this weekend in Iowa questioning the patriotism of Democrats who attack Bush’s war on terrorism. Although the message doesn’t go so far as calling Democrats unpatriotic for attacking Bush for his alleged war on terror, the basic message is that the Democrats are wrong for attacking a president who is fighting a war on terror.
Democrats on the weekend chatfests went on the attack against the ad, and John McCain regrettably defended the ad.
"I'm not attacking the president because he is attacking terrorists," said retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate. "I'm attacking him because he's not attacking terrorists."
Clark said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the ad violates the president's pledge not to use September 11 for political points. "I think it really strikes at the heart of a democracy when you accuse your opponents of somehow aiding the enemy, and that's what these ads are implying," he said.
Clark said he saw no problem with the GOP defending Bush's policies, but he said Bush's policies in the war on terrorism were "indefensible." "That ad's not intended to defend the policy," he said. "It's intended to impugn the patriotism of the people who are attempting to represent the will of the electorate and hold the president accountable."
Lieberman said on CNN's "Late Edition" that the ad was "misleading." He said it was nothing more than "an attempt by the Republican National Committee to get the public's mind off the joblessness in America, the bad prescription Medicare drug bill ... [and] the energy bill which sells out to lobbyists, as John McCain said of it."
And Sen. Ted Kennedy, appearing with McCain on "This Week," said the ad was "an attempt to stifle dissent." "They are basically in this ad saying if you're questioning this policy, you're against the war on terror," the Massachusetts Democrat said. "That's wrong."
But Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said he sees nothing wrong with the ad. "It's portraying the president's leadership that he's displayed since September 11, which I support," McCain said on ABC's "This Week."
"I think it's a very legitimate statement to be made in the coming presidential election. "The fact is, the president of the United States is going to run for re-election to a large degree on his record of trying to secure America from the threat of terrorism," he said. "I think that's a very legitimate reason for him to do so."
But in a particularly impressive example of quick response media, both the Howard Dean and John Kerry campaigns already have response ads rolling out against the ad and the Bush campaign as early as tomorrow in Iowa. No other campaigns appear to be as quick to the draw as the Dean and Kerry camps, and better still, the Kerry campaign already has their ad posted to their website tonight.
Good for them, and the Kerry ad is pretty damn good to boot.