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Byrd Responds to GOP Ad Campaign

Eight-term Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd (search) has responded to a Republican ad criticizing his record by putting out his own spot that says the GOP commercial is false and misleading.

The West Virginia lawmaker has yet to announce that he will seek a ninth term in 2006. More than a year before the election, the National Republican Senatorial Committee already has begun showing an ad that assails Byrd for his votes against President Bush on national security and taxes.

The 87-year-old Byrd ran out a 30-second commercial in response.

"Their agenda? Privatize Social Security and tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas," Byrd's ad says.

The spot also features Iraq war veteran and West Virginia University graduate Jared Towner, who praises Byrd for "bringing jobs to West Virginia, funding schools and hospitals, protecting our flag and supporting our troops."

Ned Rose, chairman of Byrd's campaign committee, said it is spending about $50,000 to air its ad. The Republicans say they are spending tens of thousands but would not provide specifics.

Both ads have appeared only in the state's Charleston-Huntington television market in the southwest part of the state.

National Republicans are hoping that three-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (search) will challenge Byrd in a state that has grown more Republican; Bush got 56 percent of vote in 2004 to John Kerry's 43 percent. Capito has said she would not decide until next month.