WASHINGTON – Relatives of people who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks vouch for President Bush or Democrat John Kerry (search) in new TV ads that try to persuade voters that just one of the two would best lead the country in a time or terrorism.
"I want to look in my daughter's eyes and know that she is safe, and that is why I am voting for John Kerry," Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband was killed in the attacks, says in an ad by the Democrat's campaign.
In another ad, by a conservative interest group, Ohio teenager Ashley Faulkner recalls being comforted by Bush after her mother died in the attacks. "He's the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe, that I'm OK," she says.
With two weeks to go in the presidential campaign, terrorism, the 2001 attacks and the Iraq war are dominating the TV ad wars as commercials on those topics fill airwaves in key battleground states.
On Monday, Bush began running a new commercial that calls Kerry and "his liberal allies" a risk the country can't afford to take. His ad says, "After Sept. 11, our world changed. Either we fight terrorists abroad or face them here."
Over the past two days, Kerry has launched at least three ads about those issues. One assails Bush for a comment he made that "I truly am not that concerned about him," a reference to Usama bin Laden (search). Another released Tuesday argues that "it's time for a fresh start" and Kerry assures voters "I'll stop at nothing to get the terrorists before they get us."
Breitweiser, a Middletown, N.J., woman who says she voted for Bush in 2000, narrates the third. Her husband Ron died in the World Trade Center. In the ad, she says she fought for the creation of the Sept. 11 commission that initially Bush opposed. "And during the commission hearings we learned the truth, we are no safer today," she says.
Meanwhile, Progress for America Voter Fund (search) is spending $14 million over the next two weeks to run its ad featuring Faulkner on cable networks and in nine states -- Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri. It's a huge amount for an outside interest group to put behind one ad, which starts running Tuesday.
In it, Faulkner's father, Lynn, says: "My wife Wendy was murdered by terrorists on Sept. 11." The ad says their daughter "closed up emotionally but when President George W. Bush came to Lebanon, Ohio, she went to see him as she had with her mother four years before."
Hearing that the daughter had lost her mother in the attacks, "he turned around and came back and he said, 'I know that's hard. Are you all right?"' Ashley Faulkner recalls, as a picture of Bush embracing her is shown.
"What I saw was what I want to see in the heart and in the soul of the man who sits in the highest elected office in our country," Lynn Faulkner says.