WASHINGTON – President Bush's (search) campaign criticizes rival John Kerry's (search) record on taxes — and questions the Democrat's character — in a new campaign ad that says "there's what Kerry says and then there's what Kerry does."
The ad shows the Massachusetts senator at his nominating convention last month saying, "We won't raise taxes on the middle class."
"Really?" the ad says. It then claims that Kerry has logged 98 votes for tax increases and supported boosting taxes on gasoline, middle-class parents and Social Security (search) benefits.
The commercial started running Monday on national cable networks and in local media markets in most of the 19 states where Bush is on the air. A similar radio ad also will run.
Kerry's campaign responded that Bush's attack "should come as no surprise" and is used "to cover up a Bush vulnerability."
"After all," the campaign said in a memo, "that's what presidents do when they have no credibility or ability to address the real issues facing the American people.
Meanwhile, Kerry's campaign was to start running a new ad Monday in West Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin, where the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search) aired its first ad criticizing the Democrat's war record.
Starting Tuesday, the group will run a new commercial in three other states — New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania — assailing Kerry for his anti-war activities after returning from Vietnam. Kerry's campaign has not bought airtime to broadcast ads in those states, but officials are considering doing so.
Kerry's response ad for West Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin says Bush's campaign "supports a front group attacking John Kerry's military record." Bush's campaign sent stations a letter saying that the ad contained a "false and libelous charge." By law, candidates can say whatever they want in ads and stations have to air them.
While there is no evidence that Bush's campaign is behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, there are ties between Bush aides and the group. However, there also are ties between Kerry's campaign and liberal groups running anti-Bush ads.
On Monday, Bush denounced TV ads by outside groups attacking both Kerry and himself and called for a halt to all such political efforts.