WASHINGTON – President Bush's (search) re-election campaign, seizing on good economic news, unveiled a television commercial Friday that emphasizes job growth and criticizes Democratic rival John Kerry (search) as a pessimist.
"After recession, 9-11 and war, now our economy has been growing for 10 straight months," the ad says. "John Kerry's response? He's talking about the Great Depression (search). One thing's sure: Pessimism never created a job."
Bush's ad is far less critical of the Democrat than previous commercials, which rarely mentioned the president's policies and mainly focused on Kerry's record.
Rather, Bush's new ad highlights the president's own economic record, as the campaign works to promote an improving economy and shift the focus from Iraq (search).
Seizing on the fact that the economy is one of voters' top issues, the ad claims that Bush enacted the "largest tax relief in history" and boasts that under his leadership there has been record homeownership, low inflation and low interest rates, and 1.4 million jobs created since August.
The 1.4 million figure was calculated based on Friday's Labor Department (search) announcement that U.S. employers added almost a quarter million workers in May. The department released the numbers at 8:30 a.m. The new ad was posted on the campaign's Web site at 11 a.m.
Terry Holt, a Bush campaign spokesman, said the campaign anticipated good news on the economic front and timed the ad to the report's release but did not receive the information before the Labor Department announced it.
"The ad was in production and 95 percent of it was finished. The last key fact of the spot was placed in it after news of the jobs numbers was released," Holt said.
In polls, Kerry has had the advantage on the economy, while Bush has led in the handling of the war on terrorism. Kerry has started to close that gap on terrorism and Bush is working to do the same on the economy.
The ad references a comment Kerry made in May that under Bush "America is still in the worst job recovery since the Great Depression."
Stephanie Cutter, a Kerry spokeswoman, claimed the ad shows the Bush is out of touch.
"John Kerry has a plan to solve the problems that George Bush can't even see," Cutter said. "George Bush's new ad says that things in America are good enough. John Kerry knows that we can do better."
For now, the new commercial will be seen far less than the other current Bush ad, which criticizes Kerry on national security and is airing in media markets in 19 states and nationally on cable networks.
The new ad will run in rotation with that commercial but only on national cable networks starting Monday.
The Labor Department report is the latest good economic news for Bush. In April, the department said that unemployment fell in 11 of 17 battleground states that could decide the presidential election.
Still, while it's improving, the economy remains far from the booming 1990s. Last month, 8.2 million people remained unemployed. While the overall jobless rate stayed at 5.6 percent, it was much higher among blacks and Hispanics.