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Inside Politics

GOP runs first Bush campaign ad

Starts Monday in Iowa

From John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit

The RNC's 30-second campaign ad praises President Bush's leadership in the war on terror.
The RNC's 30-second campaign ad praises President Bush's leadership in the war on terror.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Republican National Committee Friday released its first TV ad of Campaign 2004, hoping to blunt Democratic criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy by praising the president's leadership in the war on terror.

But the $100,000 ad stirred up renewed attacks from his Democratic opponents even before it began airing in the state that is stage for the first voting in the presidential caucus and primary campaign.

"Our war against terror is a contest of will, in which perseverance is power," Bush says after the screen flashes the words, "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."

Later, the screen flashes, "Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others," then urges viewers to tell Congress "to support the president's policy of pre-emptive self defense."

The 30-second ad will start running in Iowa on Sunday, just as Democrats are starting to arrive for a debate Monday in Des Moines. It also will be broadcast early next month in New Hampshire, where all nine of the Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to debate December 9.

The Democratic backlash already has begun, with statements issued from the campaigns of Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and John Kerry of Massachussets.

"Thirty seconds of RNC rhetoric cannot paper over almost three years of shortsighted Bush security policies, both at home and abroad," said Lieberman, who was Al Gore's runningmate in 2000.

"The facts are that George Bush hasn't fully funded homeland security and has alienated our allies around the world. This is a cynical attempt to rescue the president's sinking poll numbers by using fear and politicizing our national security."

Kerry, a Vietnam war hero, called on Bush and the GOP to stop making commercials and begin focusing on the war against terrorism.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for the Republican Party to tout the Bush Administration's effort in the war on terror in its commercials at a time when their own Secretary of Defense has acknowledged that the Administration does not have an effective plan to combat terrorism and Al Qaeda remains at large," he said.

"If George Bush and his Republican cronies think that spending their millions on phony PR campaigns is going to distract Americans from the mounting death toll in Iraq, distract Americans from a failed foreign policy that has left our relationships with friends and allies in tatters, and distract Americans from our dangerously underfunded homeland security needs, they better think again."

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