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GOP terrorism ad sparks Democratic furor

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(CNN) -- Republicans took a page from President Johnson's Cold War-era presidential campaign with an advertisement set to air this weekend called "The Stakes," which prominently features al Qaeda leaders threatening to kill Americans.

"Just like in the Cold War, the reality is that our nation is at war with an ideology and not a country," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt.

Democrats, however, have called the commercial, which is reminiscent of Johnson's 1964 "Daisy" ad, a "desperate ploy to once again try to scare voters."

The advertisement, which is available on the Republican National Committee Web site, is scheduled to run on national news networks Sunday. Republicans are emphasizing national security and terrorism issues in their bid to maintain control of Congress with about two weeks before the November midterms. (Watch how terror has been a popular theme on the campaign trail -- 2:10 Video)

The ad features al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, speaking, but the only sound is a ticking clock in the background. The terror leaders' quotes are posted on the screen and key phrases in the quotes stand alone as the rest of the quote fades out.

In one instance, bin Laden is quoted as saying, "With God's permission we call on everyone who believes in God ... to comply with His will to kill the Americans." As the text of the quote fades out, "kill the Americans" remains on the screen.

Another bin Laden quote: "They will not come to their senses unless the attacks fall on their heads and ... until the battle has moved inside America" -- fades out, leaving only "inside America" on the screen.

Meanwhile, footage of terrorists engaged in martial arts and weapons training rolls in the background. One scene shows terrorists traversing monkey bars over fire.

The ticking clock morphs into a heartbeat as the ad comes to a close, and the only spoken words on the commercial announce, "The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising." (View "The Stakes" at the RNC Web siteexternal link)

The ad plays off of Johnson's powerful "Daisy" ad, which CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider called "the most famous political ad in American history." Johnson used the ad in his successful re-election bid against Barry Goldwater.

In the "Daisy" ad, a small girl counts to 10 as she picks petals from a flower. When she reaches 10, the camera zooms in on her eye and an ominous voice counts backward from 10 to zero.

When the countdown reaches zero, a nuclear bomb explodes, followed by Johnson speaking.

"These are the stakes to make a world in which all God's children can live or to go into the dark," Johnson says on the ad. "We must either love each other or we must die."

A voice follows Johnson's, urging viewers to re-elect the Texas Democrat and says, "The stakes are too high for you to stay home."

The Democratic National Committee issued a statement saying the new Republican ad was an attempt to distract voters from GOP failures.

"Once again we see that the GOP will truly do and say anything regardless of whether or not it's true, they are so desperate to hold onto power," Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney said in a statement. "Clearly Republicans are so afraid of their abysmal record they can't offer one example of what they've done to keep America safe."

Republicans contend otherwise and say the ad "underscores the high stakes America faces in the global war on terror by using the words of the terrorists themselves as they describe their intention towards the United States," according to a statement.


Osama bin Laden is quoted urging his followers to "kill the Americans" in a GOP campaign video set to air this weekend.



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