A liberal group backing John F. Kerry is accusing President Bush of opposing civil rights and trying to suppress black voter turnout in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign targeted at young African Americans.
The Media Fund, a "527" independent group that has poured $43 million into anti-Bush advertising, plans to air the new television and radio spots in major urban markets in swing states. (The "527" reference is to the section of the tax code that governs such organizations.)
"It's a sharper message, an edgier message," fund spokesman Jim Jordan said. "We're looking for voters who haven't been particularly motivated by our party's message previously."
Fuse, a minority firm in St. Louis, is handling the ads.
The first spot makes an explicitly racial appeal. "Bush said he would leave no child behind. But he wasn't talking about your child," the narrator says. After the screen shows such statistics as "Bush cut back $33 billion for schools" and "The high school graduation rate gap between blacks and whites is 25 percent," the narrator says: "Don't keep getting played."
A radio ad charges: "The Republicans want you to sit out this election and simply stay home. . . . Who are they fooling? These are the same folks that are against affirmative action, oppose civil rights. These are the same people against raising minimum wage. And want to take away overtime pay. . . . Under Bush, 1.1 million more black folks live in poverty than they did before 2001."
The ad contains some exaggerations. The administration has not proposed weakening civil rights laws and is seeking to eliminate overtime only for certain employment categories.
The radio ad also says that "Bush, the Republican Party and the People of Color United are playing a game." The reference is to a Washington-based group that began airing anti-Kerry spots on black radio stations last month, with one person saying, "Boy, does Kerry come across as rich, white and wishy-washy," while another mocks the claim of Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, to be African American, saying "a white woman, raised in Africa, surrounded by servants" doesn't qualify.
Which goes to show that minority-oriented campaign ads can be as personal and negative as those served up to others.
Bush on 'Dirty Dozen' List
For the first time, the League of Conservation Voters included the president of the United States on the "Dirty Dozen" election-year list of politicians it says should be defeated because they threaten the environment. In the past, the group has given Bush an "F" presidential rating. It also named Vice President Cheney and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), two backers of an energy bill the group opposes, to the list.
"With President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Big Oil and Halliburton not only have a seat at the energy policy table, they own the chairs, the table and the entire building where the table sits," said the league's president, Deb Callahan. She added that Bush's "legacy will be unraveling 30 years of environmental progress."
Bush campaign spokesman Reed Dickens responded: "The president favors a common-sense approach to improving the environment while still protecting the American quality of life. The president's focus is on results, making our air, water and land cleaner."
Also on the environmental group's dirty-dozen list are Reps. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.), Max Burns (R-Ga.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), George R. Nethercutt (R-Wash.) and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz). Former representative John Thune (R-S.D.), currently running for the Senate, got a spot, too. The final names are to be announced.
Online Bounce for President
The Republican National Convention is widely credited with giving President Bush a nice bounce in the polls. But what about www.GeorgeWBush.com?
The research firm Nielsen//NetRatings reported that traffic to the president's official campaign Web site jumped by 50 percent during the week of the GOP convention. In the week ending Sept. 5, about 438,000 people clicked on his site from their homes -- and spent, on average, six minutes and 24 seconds there.
Bush's site, which the president was careful to mention in his speech accepting the GOP nomination, beat Democratic nominee John F. Kerry's for the week. The firm said about 370,000 had visited www.JohnKerry.com during that period.
But Bush's online bounce did not match his rival's during the Democratic convention in July, when the Kerry site's "at home" weekly readership leapt by 191 percent to about 771,000 people.
Staff writer Juliet Eilperin and political researcher Brian Faler contributed to this report.