CRAWFORD, Texas – A volunteer for John Kerry (search) said Friday he picked up a flier in a Bush-Cheney campaign office in Gainesville, Fla., promoting Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search), a group the Bush campaign has insisted for weeks it has no connection to.
The Kerry campaign e-mailed the flier to news organizations Friday, declaring that the Bush-Cheney campaign was "busted" for coordinating "in their smear campaign against John Kerry."
At Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters outside Washington, spokesman Steve Schmidt said: "The Bush-Cheney campaign has nothing to do with that piece of paper. ... I don't know how it showed up at the campaign headquarters."
"The Bush-Cheney campaign would object to any flier like this being displayed in any Republican headquarters," said Schmidt. He characterized the campaign operation in Gainesville where the flier was found as county GOP offices used by Bush-Cheney volunteers.
The flier distributed at Alachua County Republican Party headquarters promotes a weekend rally sponsored by "Swift Boat Vets for Truth" and other groups.
Bill Shilling, a Kerry volunteer in Gainesville, says he went to the GOP offices there Thursday and picked up the flier from a pile of literature on the table.
"The flier they gave me was on the same table as some Bush-Cheney bumper stickers," said Shilling. "I asked them if the Swift boat veterans were coming to Gainesville, and the woman I talked to said yes."
Shilling said he went back to Kerry headquarters and turned over the flier.
"I thought there was supposed to be some separation between Bush-Cheney and the Swift boat controversy but I didn't understand there was a big deal about this," said Shilling. "I think this whole thing attacking Kerry's war record is a diversion by Bush-Cheney from the real issues of the campaign."
Financed by a Texas businessman with longtime ties to prominent Republicans in the state, including President Bush (search), Swift Boat Veterans for Truth sponsored an ad featuring several Vietnam veterans who accuse Kerry of lying about the circumstances surrounding events for which he won his medals. Kerry received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts while in Vietnam.
The anti-Kerry group distributed a second commercial to the news media and said it would begin airing the ad next week in Pennsylvania, Nevada and New Mexico, the last a state Bush plans to visit next Thursday. The ad intersperses clips of a youthful Kerry talking about war atrocities during an appearance before Congress in 1971 with images of veterans condemning his testimony.
The Kerry campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was illegally coordinating its efforts with the Bush-Cheney campaign.
The Kerry campaign cited recent press reports and the group's own statements. The Bush campaign denied the allegation, as did the organization that aired the ad.