Skip to main content
The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!
Inside Politics

Some 9/11 families ask Bush to yank ads

Campaign spots in spotlight

Rita Lasar and Bob McIlvaine, right, who lost relatives on 9/11, and retired firefighter Tom Ryan oppose President Bush's new campaign ads.
Rita Lasar and Bob McIlvaine, right, who lost relatives on 9/11, and retired firefighter Tom Ryan oppose President Bush's new campaign ads.

Story Tools

True Believers: Life Inside the Dean Campaign  premieres Sunday, 8 p.m. ET
more video VIDEO
CNN's Soledad O'Brien talks with Karen Hughes about criticism of the Bush-Cheney ads.
premium content

CNN's John King on how the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign is off and running.
premium content

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, says al Qaeda would rejoice if President Bush isn't re-elected.
premium content

 Tuesday, March 9: Primaries in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas

 Sunday, March 14: Nevada county caucuses

 Tuesday, March 16: Illinois primary

 Saturday, March 20: Wyoming and Alaska Democratic caucuses

When is your primary? For more key dates in the 2004 election season, see our special America Votes 2004 Election Calendar
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Some relatives of those killed on 9/11 asked President Bush on Friday to pull his new campaign commercials off the air immediately, saying they are outraged over the ads' use of imagery from the 2001 terrorist attacks.

In a news conference organized by the advocacy group September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, two family members of victims and a retired firefighter assailed the president for the ads.

"It upsets me tremendously that Bobby, my son, could be used as a political pawn to be manipulated and at times abused -- it truly makes me sick," said Bob McIlvaine, who lost his 26-year-old son in the World Trade Center attacks.

Added Rita Lasar, who lost a brother on 9/11, "President Bush promised in a speech he gave in 2002 that he would not use the site for political reasons. We believed him; we trusted him. He has broken his promise to us.

"To say that we're outraged is the truth, but it's more than outrage. It's a deep hurt and sorrow that any politician, Democrat or Republican, would seek to gain advantage by using that site."

She added, "We're here today to beg them not to use those ads ... and not make any ads like them."

Retired firefighter Tom Ryan said, "They've deemed it that we're not allowed to see our heroic dead coming back from Iraq, but there, in a commercial to re-elect the president, they're using a dead firefighter to re-elect the president."

The speakers took no position on the presidential race, saying they would not want to see any politician use such imagery in a campaign ad.

Some relatives also complained that Bush is not providing enough cooperation with the independent panel investigating the September 11 attacks.

Once the ads began airing Thursday, they drew the ire of a local firefighters union that backs Sen. John Kerry for president as well as numerous relatives of 9/11 victims.

But some publicly supported the commercials. "It shows you firefighters carrying a brother out, and it shows you the American flag waving over the trade center," said Joe Esposito, a firefighter who lost a brother and a cousin in the attacks. "I have no problem with that."

The ads list a series of challenges that the United States has faced since Bush took office, including the 9/11 attacks, and ends with the tag line "strong leadership in times of change."

Meanwhile, MBNA announced Friday that it would discontinue its "Spirit of America" MasterCard, which features a photograph of three firefighters hoisting the American flag at Ground Zero. A portion of the card's proceeds were donated to 9/11 charities.

"It was not our intention to offend anyone, and we apologize if anyone was offended by the card," MBNA spokesman Jim Donohue said.

Giuliani calls ads 'tasteful'

The Bush campaign defended the ads, saying they're important to show that 9/11 changed America and called for a certain kind of leadership. One aide said the campaign will not back down in the face of criticism.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who officially cannot speak for the campaign, said Thursday, "September 11 changed the equation in our public policy. It forever changed our world, and the president's steady leadership is vital to how we wage the war on terrorism."

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who led the city through its struggles after the attacks, came out in support of the ads Thursday and repeated his stance Friday on CNN's "American Morning."

"This was done in a very tasteful way. It's an ad about a group of challenges the president has faced -- the recession, other things and September 11, 2001," Giuliani said. "You'd almost not be able to do the ad and talk about the challenges if you couldn't mention the truth."

Bush to meet Mexican leader

Meanwhile, the president is scheduled to meet Friday evening with Mexican President Vicente Fox at his Texas ranch after coming off a campaign swing in California.

Bush campaigned Thursday in the Golden State, insisting his tax cuts have spurred economic growth and telling workers and small business owners that Americans "are feeling confident and optimistic."

"Thirty-four workers here, 50 there, two or three here -- this job base is beginning expand," Bush said. "The economy's strengthening because of the decision-making that is taking place."

On Friday, the Labor Department said that payrolls outside the farm sector grew by 21,000 jobs in February, compared with a downwardly revised gain of 97,000 in January.

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent, matching January's number.

Economists, on average, had expected 125,000 new jobs and unemployment at 5.6 percent, according to (Full story)

The presumptive Democratic challenger said Bush has "lost credibility with the American people."

"The only thing steady about this president is his steadily leading our country in the wrong direction," Kerry said in a campaign statement Thursday. "It's time for a change in America, and time to get things back on track."

Kerry campaigned Friday in Louisiana, which holds its primary on Tuesday. ('s interactive Election Calendar)

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Panel: Spy agencies in dark about threats
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.