Published February 13, 2004
WASHINGTON – In a new video message being sent to millions of people, President Bush's re-election campaign casts Sen. John Kerry (search) as a tool of the special interests he regularly denounces.
The one-minute spot, titled "Unprincipled," has the flavor of a political campaign ad but is customized for the Internet users.
It depicts a woman surfing the Web who finds a clip of Kerry, the Democratic front-runner, railing against "the influence-peddlers and the special interests. We're coming, you're going!" Kerry declares.
The woman narrates the piece as she digs further into the Internet and finds news and watchdog reports on Kerry's campaign fund raising.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (search) in Washington found that Kerry, from Massachusetts, accepted the most campaign money from lobbyists over the past 15 years of anyone in the Senate — about $638,000.
"Whew!" the woman says. "For what?"
"Kerry — brought to you by the special interests."
The video spot was sent out late Thursday to about 6 million Bush supporters.
It makes clear that Bush's re-election campaign believes Democrats have all but settled on Kerry as their nominee, and previews a line of attack Bush's campaign will use to exploit what it believes is a vulnerability.
It also is an inexpensive way to hit back at Kerry, who has aired at least a dozen ads attacking Bush or his policies over the past six months.
Kerry's spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter (search), responded: "If the Bush White House wants to raise special interests as an issue, then bring it on."
"This White House has never met a special interest it didn't like. In fact, George Bush took more money from lobbyists in 2003 than John Kerry (search) has in his entire career, and has managed to reward them handsomely for it too — at the expense of the environment, our economy and the middle class."
Bush had about $100 million in the bank at the end of 2003. He and his surrogates have been steadily collecting it all year.
The Bush-Cheney re-election team will begin airing TV ads in battleground states in coming weeks, as soon as the Democrats settle firmly on their nominee, campaign officials say.