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9/11 billboard draws flak from Florida Democrats, GOP

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  • Billboards use image from 9/11 to encourage GOP votes
  • 9/11 image wrong for ad, say Florida political parties
  • Floridian praises President Bush, says ex-President Clinton failed to stop al Qaeda
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(CNN) -- A Florida man is using billboards with an image of the burning World Trade Center to encourage votes for a Republican presidential candidate, drawing criticism for politicizing the 9/11 attacks.

Businessman Mike Meehan says he has put up three billboards such as this one around Orlando, Florida.

Businessman Mike Meehan says he has put up three billboards such as this one around Orlando, Florida.

"Please Don't Vote for a Democrat" reads the type over the picture of the twin towers after hijacked airliners hit them on September, 11, 2001.

Mike Meehan, a St. Cloud, Florida, businessman who paid to post the billboards in the Orlando area, said former President Clinton should have put a stop to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda before 9/11. He said a Republican president would have done so.

"I believe 9/11 could have been prevented if we'd had a Republican president at the time," Meehan said Wednesday on CNN's "American Morning."

But Democrats and Republicans are saying Meehan shouldn't be using a 9/11 image to make a political point.

"This is a blatant exploitation of that terrible tragedy for political and, perhaps even worse, personal gain," Bill Robinson, the Orange County, Florida, Democratic Party chairman told CNN affiliate WFTV-TV in Orlando.

The local Republican Party called the billboard "inappropriate," according to WFTV.

"There are many ways to convey the importance of national security in this election without going to extremes, and we encourage a constructive dialogue," the Florida Republican Party said in a statement Tuesday.

According to Meehan, President Bush has done "an excellent job ... going after these terrorists." Video Watch Meehan's take on terrorism and the election »

"You got to remember all the ... people that George Bush did catch and how much success he did have. And we haven't had an attack on this soil since 9/11," Meehan said.

"Unlike Bill Clinton, who actually had bin Laden right in his hand and through the CIA and other high officials decide to get him go," Meehan said.

In a 2006 interview with "Fox News Sunday," Clinton said he authorized the killing of bin Laden in 2000 after the attack on the Navy warship USS Cole in Yemen, but the order was never carried out because U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies refused to certify that bin Laden was behind the Cole attack.

"I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since," Clinton said in the 2006 interview.

Meehan also is using the billboard to promote his Web site, the, where he's trying to sell copies of his song, "Please Don't Vote for a Democrat."

The song goes beyond the national security issue, ripping Democrats on taxation and energy issues, too.

"They want to take the money from the hard workin' man, and give it to the lazy folks that don't give a damn," Meehan sings.

Another verse takes on the oil issue.

"We're not fightin' for oil, we got plenty if we drill it," he sings.

The song's not a moneymaker, he said, just an effort to recoup some of what he's invested in the billboards.

A copy of the song on CD cost $5 on the Web site, and the site points out that Meehan can be hired to perform at a "concert, party, meeting or event."

"I'm willing to pay the cost for the fact that our soldiers that have died protecting this country have paid a heck of a lot more than what these billboards cost," Meehan told "American Morning."


Florida resident Mary Anderson told WFTV she doesn't see politics when she's looking at the billboard.

"Just looking at it, I'm not thinking about Democrat or Republican, I'm thinking about the twin towers and all the people killed," she told WFTV.

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