PITTSBURGH – President Bush's re-election campaign will launch a television ad featuring former Republican rival John McCain (search) and titled "First Choice," an effort to paint Democrat John Kerry's (search) running mate as his second choice.
McCain, the Arizona senator, rejected Kerry's overtures to be No. 2 on the Democratic ticket. Kerry chose Sen. John Edwards (search) of North Carolina for the ticket on Tuesday.
"He has not wavered, he has not flinched from the hard choices, he was determined and remains determined to make this world a better, safer, freer place. He deserves not only our support but our admiration," McCain says in the ad, referring to Bush.
The 60-second ad shows McCain speaking when he campaigned with Bush in Fort Lewis, Wash., and Reno, Nev., last month, praising Bush's efforts in the war on terror. The ad is to run soon on national cable networks and in selected local media markets in battleground states.
"America is under attack by depraved enemies who oppose our every interest and hate every value we hold dear," McCain is shown saying. Referring to Bush, the senator says: "It is the great test of our generation and he has led with great moral clarity and firm resolve."
In May, Kerry ran a biographical ad that showed a picture of himself with a hand on McCain's shoulder, as the two walked away from the camera. The ad said: "He joined with John McCain to find the truth about POWs and MIAs in Vietnam."
The Bush campaign has not run ads for more than two weeks in local media markets in 20 battleground states where it had been on the air. It's been off the air on national cable channels for more than a week. The campaign spent $83 million on advertising over three months. As of Friday, it had not yet bought airtime for July.
Last month, McCain — Bush's rival for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000 — rejected the notion of a bipartisan ticket with Kerry, and shortly thereafter he appeared with Bush.
Kerry and McCain, fellow senators and Vietnam veterans, became close when they worked together to help President Clinton normalize relations with Vietnam. On the other hand, McCain has had a cool relationship with Bush, and the 2000 campaign was so bitter that it left wounds some believe may never heal.
Since Kerry secured the nomination in early March, McCain has praised him as "a good and decent man." McCain also defended Kerry when the White House accused the Democrat of being weak on defense.