AD WATCH | Evaluating the Accuracy of Political Advertising
Who's the Real Patriot?
Candidate: President Bush
Images: Bush giving a speech, signing a bill; soldiers on patrol; a screen with Sen. John F. Kerry's image that turns to reflect his purported change of position; a judge's gavel and a cell phone.
Time: 30 seconds
Audio: President Bush signed the Patriot Act giving law enforcement vital tools to fight terrorism. John Kerry? He voted for the Patriot Act. But pressured by fellow liberals, he's changed his position. While wiretaps, subpoena powers and surveillances are routinely used against drug dealers and organized crime, Kerry would now repeal the Patriot Act's use of these tools against terrorists. John Kerry — playing politics with national security.
Analysis: The ad, which continues the president's theme of depicting Kerry as a flip-flopper on legislation he once supported, overstates the case against the Massachusetts senator. While Kerry has repeatedly criticized the 2001 law he voted for, he wants to replace it with new legislation.
The Bush camp offered no evidence that Kerry changed his position because he was "pressured by fellow liberals." Campaign manager Ken Mehlman says Kerry began his criticism after Howard Dean and the American Civil Liberties Union assailed the law, but that hardly proves Kerry was pressured.
Kerry would require a judge's approval before any search of a person's library records and greater oversight for "sneak-and-peek" searches that involve breaking into a home or office. But none of these proposals amount to a "repeal" of law-enforcement tools against terrorists. Mehlman says Kerry's call to end the era of Attorney General John Ashcroft by replacing the law shows he would drop the anti-terrorism techniques, but Kerry has said no such thing.
Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton called the ad "completely false." Citing several GOP cosponsors of his bill, Kerry says he would keep 95 percent of the act and strengthen some aspects.
— Howard Kurtz
© 2004 The Washington Post Company