WASHINGTON – A Republican ad criticizing Democrat John Kerry (search) is on an Internet video game site in which a player can pretend to be a cartoon President Bush killing terrorists who have invaded the White House.
The ad sponsored by the Republican National Committee (search) is shown at various times above and below the game called "Bush Shoot-Out: Starring President Bush and Condoleezza Rice (search)," one of several free video games offered on the Web site Miniclip.com.
The ad says: "Senator Kerry says his own vote to 'abandon our troops' was reckless and irresponsible" before flashing to another screen that says "To Listen to Senator Kerry in His Own Words Click Here!"
The RNC last month began placing such anti-Kerry ads — pop-ups, banners and column ads — on some 1,400 general interest, news, sports, technology, entertainment, music and business Web sites.
Mary Ellen Grant, an RNC spokeswoman, said: "We contract through a vendor for our Internet ads, and clearly they've chosen a site with a number of Internet games on it." She would not say whether the RNC will ask for the ad to be pulled from the site.
Meanwhile, as Bush is dogged by questions about the increasing violence in Iraq and what he knew prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his latest TV ad focuses on Kerry's record on national security.
The Bush campaign has been airing two or three ads on several topics each week, typically one highlighting Bush's leadership on the economy and terrorism and others assailing Kerry's record on both.
On Friday, the Bush campaign will pull its ad that touts the president's economic policies as well as two commercials that portray Kerry as a tax-raising Democrat. Only one ad will run: a 30-second spot that accuses Kerry of waffling on military issues.
The campaign, which has spent at least $50 million on TV and radio ads so far, is significantly curtailing its TV ads in 18 competitive states starting Friday after six weeks and is ending its positive commercials — at least for now.
Polls show the anti-Kerry ads, coupled with GOP criticisms of the Democrat, have successfully boosted Kerry's unfavorable ratings. Advisers say they're scaling back the ads because the public's attention on the race has waned.
The Bush ad, which previously ran on national cable networks and now will run on broadcast channels in 18 states, says: "Few votes in Congress are as important as funding our troops at war. Though John Kerry voted in October 2002 for military action in Iraq, he later voted against funding our soldiers."
Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, said the focus on terrorism is meant to highlight what he called Kerry's "political opportunism" on Iraq. "He's using Iraq in a purely political way," Mehlman said.
But Kerry, at a Thursday morning breakfast fund-raiser in New York, suggested that Bush was the one using terrorism for political gain.
"Everything he did in Iraq, he's going to try to persuade people it has to do with terror, even though everybody knows that it had nothing to do with al-Qaida and everything to do with an agenda that was preset," Kerry said.
Kerry, who has spent $11 million on ads that include some criticizing Bush, plans to launch an intensified ad effort next week meant to flesh out his biography and proposals.
"A lot of people don't really know who I am," Kerry told donors at the breakfast. Referring to the GOP's advertising onslaught, Kerry said: "We're just going to be coming right back at them."