AD WATCH | Evaluating the accuracy of political advertising
Kerry Introduces Himself, Again
Candidate: John F. Kerry
Images: Pictures of Kerry's father and mother; Kerry in Yale hockey
uniform; Kerry's Navy crewmen; Kerry in Vietnam; in a courtroom; with young
children; his arm around John McCain; shaking hands with veterans.
Producer: Shrum Devine Donilon
Time: 60 seconds
Audio: [Narrator]: He was born in an Army Hospital in Colorado. His father
was an Army Air Corps Pilot; his mother, a community leader. He went to
college at Yale — and volunteered to serve in Vietnam.
[Del Sandusky]: The decisions that he made saved our lives.
[Jim Rassmann]: When he pulled me out of the river, he risked his life to
[Narrator]: In combat, he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and
three Purple Hearts. Then he came home, determined to end that war. For
more than 30 years, John Kerry has served America. As a tough prosecutor,
he fought for victims' rights. In the Senate, he was a leader in the fight
for health care for children. He joined with John McCain to find the truth
about POWs and MIAs in Vietnam. He broke with his own party to support a
balanced budget. Then in the 1990s cast the decisive vote that created 20
million new jobs. A lifetime of service and strength.
Analysis: This effort to humanize Kerry relies in part on footage, which
much of the country has not seen, of the candidate's Navy crewmates
praising his heroism in Vietnam. It also attempts to neutralize the
senator's image as a down-the-line liberal.
Kerry won high marks as an assistant county prosecutor in Massachusetts,
but the ad's claim rests on his creating one program to counsel crime
victims. He did team up with McCain, a longtime friend, but the Republican
is supporting President Bush.
While Kerry introduced a children's health insurance bill in the Senate in
1996 — a month before he faced reelection — the measure that passed a year
later, as part of a balanced-budget bill, was one championed by Sen. Edward
M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).
While the ad says Kerry "broke with his own party to support a balanced
budget," 22 Democrats voted for the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings measure and
22 against. A narrator says Kerry "cast the decisive vote that created 20
million new jobs" — a reference to President Bill Clinton's 1993
deficit-reduction package — although strategist Tad Devine conceded that at
best the measure "helped create" such jobs. Every senator can claim to be
"the decisive vote" since the bill passed by one vote.
— Howard Kurtz
© 2004 The Washington Post Company