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AD WATCH | Evaluating the Accuracy of Political Advertising

Kerry Slams Cost of Iraq War

Candidate: John F. Kerry

Images: President Bush, walking and waving; Kerry speaking; factory workers; Kerry with a mother and her son; an elderly couple.

Time: 30 seconds

____ Campaign Ad Watch ____

Video: A new advertisement by the Kerry-Edwards campaign is the first ad in which Kerry has tried to link Iraq with domestic priorities.


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Audio: George Bush: $200 billion for Iraq. In America, lost jobs and rising health care costs. George Bush's wrong choices have weakened us here at home.

The Kerry plan: Stop tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas. Lower health care premiums by up to $1,000 per family. Reduce the deficit to protect Medicare and Social Security.

Analysis: This is the first ad in which Kerry has tried to link Iraq with domestic priorities, suggesting that if he had his way, the $200 billion spent on the war could have been better spent at home.

The problem with this claim is that Kerry voted to give Bush the authority to go to war. While the senator now says he would have done things differently than the president, the ad does not explain how he would have substantially reduced the price tag, even with a broader international coalition, unless Kerry chose not to go to war.

"Staggeringly misleading," says Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt, adding that Kerry took a different position on "Meet the Press." Kerry said in August 2003 that the United States should "increase" funding for Iraq "by whatever number of billions of dollars it takes to win." Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton says U.S. taxpayers paid only $4.7 billion for the 1991 Persian Gulf War because of the global coalition involved, but that war did not include a 16-month occupation.

Kerry has long proposed to end tax benefits for companies moving jobs out of the country, but his campaign has been unable to estimate how many U.S. jobs would be saved. The Kerry health insurance plan projects major savings on premiums, but the ad does not mention that it would cost nearly $1 trillion. These and other spending proposals -- including Kerry's vow not to cut Social Security benefits -- will make it harder for him to meet his goal of cutting the deficit in half in four years.

— Howard Kurtz


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