The Bush administration has issued government-wide instructions centralizing the release of information relating to the president's service with the Texas Air National Guard between 1968 and 1973. Officers responsible for implementing the Freedom of Information Act for the National Guard and the Pentagon declined to respond to queries from The Post last week on the completeness of the president's records, referring a reporter instead to Krenke and the White House press office.
The new commercial by Texans for Truth, to be aired on $110,000 worth of television time in battleground-state cities such as Harrisburg, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio, shows Bob Mintz, who served as a lieutenant in the Alabama Air National Guard at the same time Bush was supposed to be serving, speaking to the camera:
"I heard George W. Bush get up there and say, 'I served in the 187th Air National Guard in Montgomery, Alabama.' I said, 'Really? That was my unit. And I don't remember seeing you there.' "
Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign, charged that Texans for Truth "is a front group for MoveOn.org that has spent tens of millions of dollars attacking the president. . . . This is a smear group launching baseless attacks on behalf of John Kerry's campaign that will be rejected by the American people."
Glenn Smith, the head of Texans for Truth, is a former political reporter for the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post and has been a Democratic consultant, working on campaigns in Texas and other states. He ran Tony Sanchez's unsuccessful bid for Texas governor in 2002.
Smith said he was angry over ads created by another advocacy group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, attacking Kerry's service in the Vietnam War.
In a conference call with reporters, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said "relentless negative attacks" on Kerry "made the president's service, or lack thereof, completely fair game."
Republican National Committee communications director Jim Dyke countered that "McAuliffe has a long history of false and reckless statements."
Staff writers James Grimaldi and Howard Kurtz and researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report.