AD WATCH: Evaluating the Accuracy of Political Advertising
Playing the McCain Card
Wednesday, July 7, 2004; Page A12
Candidate: President Bush
Images: John McCain addressing a crowd; toppling of Saddam Hussein statue;
U.S. soldiers; Osama bin Laden; American flag; Bush at the podium and on
Time: 60 seconds
Audio:[McCAIN:] It’s a big thing, this war. It’s a fight between right and
wrong, good and evil. And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become an
even bigger thing. It will become a fight for our survival. America is
under attack by depraved enemies who oppose our every interest and hate
every value we hold dear.
It is the great test of our generation, and he has led with great moral
clarity and firm resolve. He has not wavered, he has not flinched from the
hard choices, he was determined and remains determined to make this world a
better, safer, freer place. He deserves not only our support but our
admiration. That’s why I am honored to introduce to you the president of
the United States, George W. Bush.
Analysis: This is one ad in which the messenger is the message. The Bush
campaign calls the spot “First Choice,” and immediately after John F. Kerry
picked running mate John Edwards, it is designed to remind people that
Kerry had repeatedly discussed the vice presidency with the Arizona
Republican. The use of a McCain speech last month not only emphasizes the
war on terror but also demonstrates that he has mended fences with the
president after their bitter 2000 primary battle.
Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton denied that Edwards was a runner-up,
perhaps relying on the technicality that Kerry never formally offered the
spot to McCain. “The first choice is John Edwards, and he couldn’t be
happier with that choice,” Clanton said.
The ad sparked a competition in which both campaigns unearthed comments
that now seem embarrassing. The Kerry camp, while citing McCain’s praise of
both Kerry and Edwards, recycled a 2000 attack in which McCain said Bush
should be “ashamed” of his campaign tactics.
Bush spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry “indicted John Edwards in the
primaries as being unprepared to be commander in chief,” and circulated a
crack (for which Kerry later apologized) about whether Edwards was “in
diapers” during the Vietnam War.
While the Bush ad doesn’t mention Kerry or Edwards, it flaunts a
testimonial from the maverick whom Kerry tried to entice.
— Howard Kurtz
© 2004 The Washington Post Company