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 save mine.

[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 with that stance can claim to be "the decisive vote" since the bill passed by one vote.

-- Howard Kurtz

Video of this ad can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/politics.