WASHINGTON – A new television ad from President Bush (search), depicting a young girl leaving the comfort of home for school, questions whether parents share the values of Democratic candidate John Kerry (search) when they touch on abortion and children.
"Kerry voted against parental notification for teenage abortions," an announcer says. "Kerry even voted to allow schools to hand out the morning-after pill without parents' knowledge. He voted to take control away from parents by taking away their right to know."
The spot concludes: "John Kerry has his priorities. The question is, are they yours?" It was the second straight TV ad in which Bush has argued that Kerry did not have the same "priorities" as most Americans.
While portraying Kerry as out of step with mainstream values — an argument made in recent Bush ads and speeches — the new spot places the abortion (search) debate front and center in the race for the White House. It begins airing Friday in New Mexico, Nevada and Ohio.
The ad cites votes Kerry cast in 1991 and 2000 on abortion-related issues. In the first, the senator from Massachusetts voted against requiring parental notification for a minor's abortion. In the latter, he voted to kill an amendment that would have banned federal money from being used to distribute in schools the so-called morning-after pill (search), a birth-control aid.
The Kerry campaign defended both Senate votes in a response paper. On parental notification, it stated that Kerry recognizes there are "any number of situations" in which forcing a young woman to obtain a parent's consent before obtaining an abortion could put her at serious risk of further harm or abuse.
Kerry supports "commonsense parental consent measures" that encourage young women to talk to their parents about options surrounding an unwanted pregnancy but still protect their welfare and safety, the campaign said.
On the "morning-after pill," Kerry's campaign pointed out that the drug is not an abortion pill. His 2000 vote gave parents more control over how local schools spend federal money, the campaign said.
Bush also begins airing new radio ads Friday on predominantly black radio stations, charging that Kerry has an "extreme voting record." The ads coincide with the NAACP's convention, where Kerry and several civil rights leaders sharply criticized the president.
Meanwhile, after facing criticism for its ad campaign targeting black voters, Kerry's campaign said it will weave in suggestions from the Congressional Black Caucus in a new set of ads to air in the next few days.
The series of print, radio and television ads — part of a $2 million ad-buy announced Wednesday — will highlight policy differences between Bush and the Massachusetts senator and include testimonials from people who know Kerry, said caucus chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
Seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Kerry campaign officials on Thursday to voice their concerns over what Cummings described as a "rather lackluster" ad released the day before.
The 30-second ad "Who is John Kerry?" features black men and women asking that question, Kerry embracing a black voter, and an announcer encouraging viewers to find out how Kerry will fight for them. A black-owned firm had developed the spot to air in battleground states and in major cities on black-oriented cable networks like BET and TV1.
The campaign is producing new ads to incorporate the Congressional Black Caucus suggestions, Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson said, and the new spots will replace the original commercials.
"This is part of an ongoing dialogue," Dobson said. "We're pleased as always to get their constructive criticism and suggestions."