Bush Campaign Launches Ad Attacking Kerry Special Interest Record

In the video e-mailed to about 6 million Bush-Cheney supporters, President Bush’s reelection campaign casts Kerry as beholden to the special interests he regularly denounces. 

The 60-second video is titled “John Kerry: Unprincipled, Chapter 1,” hinting of more attacks against the Massachusetts senator on the issue of special interests in the future.

The Internet commercial — currently posted on Bush’s campaign Web site — depicts a woman surfing the Internet for information about Kerry. She finds a video clip of Kerry in a speech rallying against “the influence-peddlers and the special interests. We’re coming, you’re going!”

The woman narrates as she conducts an online search for “special interests,” and reads through news articles as well as a report from the watchdog group Center for Public Integrity showing that Kerry received more special interest money than any other senator.

The woman then says, “Kerry: Brought to you by the special interests. Millions from executives at HMOs, telecoms, drug companies. Ka-Ching! Unprincipled?”

Upon typing “unprincipled?” into a search engine, the woman immediately pulls up Kerry’s campaign Web site, which then shows the Democratic presidential candidate saying, “I have a message for the influence peddlers, and the special interests…”

According to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics compiled from Federal Election Commission data, Kerry accepted the most campaign money from paid lobbyists, about $638,000, over the past 15 years of anyone else in the Senate.

The Web-based ad is also a cost-effective method to strike back at Kerry, who has aired over a dozen ads over various media attacking President Bush and his policies over the past six months.

The Kerry campaign immediately launched a counteroffensive, accusing the Bush reelection team of running a negative ad campaign themselves.

Kerry’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, responded to the ad, saying, “It takes a lot of nerve for George Bush to attack John Kerry on the special interests.

“In another attempt to avoid an honest discussion of the issues, George Bush has chosen to make his first campaign message to the American people a misleading, negative attack on John Kerry before a Democratic nominee is chosen,” Cutter said in a press statement.

“The fact is, George Bush has taken more special interest money than any person in history,” she added.

Other Kerry campaign aides said the Internet ad was evidence that the president was wary about the increasing probability that he would have to face off against Kerry in the general elections.

Kerry’s campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, pointed to recent public opinion polls showing Kerry would win against Mr. Bush in a general election.

“Trailing badly in the polls, George W. Bush is launching a negative attack on John Kerry. Bush couldn’t even put this ad on television — because he won’t appear in it to back up its claims,” Cahill wrote in a recent e-mail soliciting contributions.

But, Mr. Bush’s campaign aides said the Internet commercial was merely a response to “months of Kerry’s attacks against President Bush on special interests.”

“To date, John Kerry has harshly attacked President Bush with 15 ads that have aired 9,712 times and cost $4.9 million,” according to a statement posted on the Bush-Cheney reelection Web site.

Scott Stanzel, a campaign spokesman, explained: “This Web video provides an opportunity for our supporters to see how Senator Kerry’s rhetoric doesn’t match his record.”

The Internet commercial appeared hours after Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie gave a speech in Nevada predicting that Democrats would run “the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics.”

Gillespie added, “This is because they don’t want a debate on the issues, and they don’t want to run on Senator Kerry’s record.”

Such volleys from the president’s reelection campaign come as Kerry’s momentum as the Democratic front-runner continues to build. 

The Bush-Cheney reelection team will start broadcasting TV ads in battleground states in coming weeks, as soon as the Democrats settle firmly on their nominee, the Associated Press reported.