In 2000, the Bush camp ran a vicious "whisper campaign" which questioned whether John McCain was mentally stable after his service as a Vietnam POW.1 In 2002, Bush surrogates ran a TV ad against Max Cleland, a Democratic Senator who lost three limbs in Vietnam, that attacked Cleland's patriotism and faded his face into Osama bin Laden's.2
Now, the Republican National Committee and the Bush/Cheney campaign are pushing a story that John Kerry was not injured badly enough in Vietnam to deserve one of his three Purple Hearts. Given the gaping holes in Bush's own record of service, the attack is absurd. But if the Bush campaign wants to raise this debate, we're happy to oblige.
Today, we're launching a new 60-second ad that compares Kerry's record of courageous service in Vietnam with Bush's early departure from the National Guard. The ad concludes: "This election is about character. It's between John Kerry, who left no man behind… and George W. Bush, who simply left." This is the first ad since the launch of our 50 for the Future campaign, and we need your help to get it on the air.
Watch the ad and contribute now at:
Recently released military documents from both camps highlight the differences between the two men. George Bush, then in the National Guard, checked a box "do not volunteer for overseas."3 Then he failed to show up for a required physical, was grounded from flying, and didn't show up for several months before leaving eight months early for Harvard Business School.4
In contrast, in a letter to his Navy personnel officer, Kerry wrote "I request duty in Vietnam."5 Over the course of that service, for "brave action, bold initiative and unwavering devotion to duty,"6 he was awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star medals. He also earned not one but three Purple Hearts, for being injured in service to our country.7
As the Associated Press reported, "Throughout his four years of active duty, Kerry's superiors gave him glowing evaluations . . . narrative comments from his commanding officers said he was diplomatic, charismatic, decisive and well-liked by his men. . . He was recommended for early promotion, and when he left the Navy in 1970 to run for Congress, his commanding officer said it was the Navy's loss."8
But unless we set the record straight, Republicans may actually succeed in misleading the public about Kerry's courageous service and deflecting the huge questions that remain about their own candidate's service. Take a look at our ad comparing the two men, and then help us get it on the air:
George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove have a long history of attacking their opponents' military service -- even though Bush left early, Cheney said he had "other priorities" than serving, and Rove didn't serve at all.9 If we fight back together, we can demonstrate how outrageous and hypocritical these attacks are -- and make them stop.
--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, and Wes
The MoveOn PAC team
April 26th, 2004
P.S. By the way, if we're unable to use your contribution for the ad you specify, either because of oversubscription or for another unforeseen reason, it is our policy to use your contribution for other advertising, public relations, and advocacy activities.
1."The Jeffords affair," by Arianna Huffinton (5/31/01)
2. "Ad uses Saddam, bin Laden to question Cleland's record," by Jeffrey McMurray (10/2/02)
3. Bush military service records
4. "Bush's Guard actions required an inquiry," by Walter V. Robinson and Francie Latour (2/13/04)
5. Kerry military service records
6. "Editorial: Galling Smears," Minnesota Star Tribune (4/24/04)
7. Kerry military service records
8. "Records show high praise for officer Kerry," Nedra Pickler (4/22/04)
9. The Chickenhawk Database
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