BUSH CAMPAIGN MARKETING TEAM TAKES AIM AT KERRY

Internet Used for Unusually Early Attack Ad

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Bush-Cheney political marketing team has come out with guns blazing against Sen. John Kerry, taking the unusual steps of starting a sitting president's campaign with a negative ad and attacking a rival before he has the nomination.

A 60-second ad -- produced by the president's

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ad team, Maverick Media -- portrays the Democratic senator from Massachusetts as a tool of special interests. The spot was placed on the campaign's Web site (www.georgewbush.com) Feb. 12 and also sent to 6 million Republicans by e-mail.

Mock Web 'search'
Dubbed "Unprincipled, Chapter 1," the spot features a Web search page overshadowed by videos of Sen. Kerry attacking special interests, interrupted by someone typing "special interests" in the browser. The "search" brings up recent newspaper stories saying Mr. Kerry has received money from lobbyists.

The ad then pictures Sen. Kerry speaking with a subtitle underneath -- "Brought to you by the special interests" -- with icons of various industries. An announcer says, "Millions from executives at HMOs, telecoms, drug companies. Ka-Ching! Unprincipled."

Mark McKinnon, head of the Maverick Media team, said the video isn't targeted to the public, but to GOP supporters who have called on the campaign to respond aggressively to charges Sen. Kerry has raised in his primary campaign.

Aimed at core supporters
"It is aimed at the 6 million members of our base who are strong supporters and who want to see us get on the offense," he said. "It's a good way of beginning to engage."

He declined to say when ads would run other than "soon," but when asked whether the ads will carry the same tone, he said that when actual advertising launches, it will include "a broad menu of communications."

The Kerry campaign is a statement called the ad "misleading," saying the figures cited for Mr. Kerry's entire Senate career are less than the amount President Bush has received in a single year. President Bush "has no more credibility on special interests than he does on creating jobs," the statement said.

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