Candidate: President Bush

Images: Rows of tiny pictures of John F. Kerry; the U.S. Capitol; an elderly woman; an American soldier; pregnant women.

Time: 30 seconds

Audio: Leadership means choosing priorities. While campaigning, John Kerry has missed over two-thirds of all votes. Missed a vote to lower health care costs by reducing frivolous lawsuits against doctors. Missed a vote to fund our troops in combat.

Yet Kerry found time to vote against the Lad Peterson law that protects pregnant women from violence. Kerry has his priorities. Are they yours?

Analysis: Kerry opposed the "Lad Peterson law"-named for the pregnant California woman killed in 2002-saying it would impact a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. The bill, signed into law by Bush, exempted abortions from prosecution. Kerry says he voted for a Democratic amendment that would have increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women including murder charges if the fetus is killed-without defining an "unborn child." While Bush communications director Nicole Devenish said the Peterson law had "broad bipartisan support," 35 of 48 Democratic senators voted against the measure; all but two Republicans supported it.

The absenteeism charge is a staple in congressional campaigns, and the proportion of Senate votes missed by Kerry is accurate. But members of Congress who run for president routinely miss plenty of votes, so it remains to be seen whether voters will find this a compelling issue. The examples of what Kerry missed are selective, since he was also on the road while measures he favored were considered. When Kerry returned to Washington last month to vote on improving health care for veterans, Republicans delayed the vote.

This ad, which follows by one day the release of seven positive Kerry spots, makes clear that the Bush strategy still rests heavily on discrediting the senator as unacceptably liberal. The Bush camp has responded to Kerry's decision to advertise in North Carolina after adding John Edwards to the ticket by launching two older anti-Kerry ads in Edwards's state.

-- Howard Kurtz

Video of this ad can be found at