Bush, Kerry Ready Huge Ad Blitz

Hoping to dispatch with his chief rival on March 2, Democratic John Kerry (search) will spend more than $1 million to run campaign ads in three states starting Tuesday and so far is outspending challenger John Edwards (search) this week.

President Bush's re-election campaign, meanwhile, has checked advertising rates in at least 50 media markets in 17 states as it prepares to buy airtime to run its first commercials next week, according to Democratic sources familiar with the inquiries.

Kerry aides say he will spend more than $1 million this week to run ads in media markets in Ohio, Georgia and upstate New York. As of Monday night, Kerry had bought about $560,000 worth of time compared with Edwards' buys totaling about $270,000 so far. Both likely will place more buys this week when current ad runs end.

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Neither Kerry nor Edwards are running ads in the pricey New York City market, where a week of commercials costs at least $1 million. And neither has placed buys in California, another expensive advertising state, which is one of 10 holding Democratic nominating contests March 2.

Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, will begin the weeklong ad run with a commercial that has aired heavily in other states. It includes a Vietnam (search) crewmate of Kerry's and shows footage of Kerry in Vietnam.

Edwards, a North Carolina senator, is running previously aired ads in which he talks about the loss of manufacturing jobs, his working-class roots and his belief that there are two Americas divided by wealth. He began running ads in Ohio and Georgia on Monday and will run them in upstate New York starting Tuesday.

Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee with 15 of 17 wins, had planned to run ads this week in Minnesota as well. It holds a contest March 2 and is a general election battleground state, but Kerry advisers say the campaign has abandoned that plan for now, and instead has chosen to run ads only where Edwards is on the air.

By holding off on Minnesota, Kerry, perhaps, is saving his resources to be able to respond to Bush's advertising onslaught that is to start March 4. Bush's campaign is prepared to spend a large chunk of its $100 million re-election fund on advertising this year.

Ads have been in the works for some time. Bush taped commercials a couple weeks ago in the White House residence, spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday.

The re-election campaign will buy airtime over the next two weeks in selected broadcast markets and nationally on cable stations. Of the 17 states being considered, all were competitive in the 2000 race, with the contests being decided by 6 percentage points or fewer.

A Bush-Cheney source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the campaign intends to buy airtime on network television in 14 to 16 states, and plans a 50-state cable buy, likely on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. The source said that the campaign, at some point, will advertise on ESPN, as well.

Spanish-language advertising also will be included in the initial ad runs as the campaign works to court Hispanic voters from the start.