AD WATCH | Evaluating the Accuracy of Political Advertising
The Many Sides of Kerry
Friday, July 2, 2004; Page A06
Candidate: John F. Kerry
Market: New Mexico
Images: Kerry laughing with his wife; in an airplane cockpit; with hunting rifle; skating on hockey rink; in Navy uniform; cover of his book "The New War."
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: He's a husband and father. A pilot, a hunter, a hockey player. Tough prosecutor, advocate for kids. 19 years, Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Author of a strategy to win the war on terror. A combat veteran who has been praised by former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Stronger at home. Respected in the world. John Kerry for president.
Analysis: The only serious factual dispute involves whether Kerry's 1997 book contains "a strategy to win the war on terror." The book is primarily about fighting international crime, such as drug trafficking and money-laundering, not terrorism. It never mentions al-Qaeda and refers briefly to the Taliban only in terms of Afghan drug smuggling. The reliance on this thin reed underscores that even in a soft-focus ad about a hunter and hockey player, terrorism remains an issue that is never far from the surface of the campaign ice.
With its images of Kerry at play and frolicking with his children, this ad is clearly an attempt to lighten Kerry's often-serious image and remind viewers he is a family man and sportsman. The bio spot also shows that a month before the Democratic convention, Kerry is still having to introduce himself to voters, 36 percent of whom had no opinion of him in the latest New York Times/CBS poll. Kerry aides say the lack of recognition is not unusual for a challenger at this stage.
The Kerry camp plans to air the ad later in battleground states beyond New Mexico.
— Howard Kurtz
© 2004 The Washington Post Company