WHITE HOUSE REBUFFS OLYMPIC COMMITTEE ON CONTROVERSIAL AD

Will Continue to Air Political Campaign Spot

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Rejecting the U.S. Olympic Committee's call for withdrawal of U.S. campaign ads that refer to the Olympics, the Bush White House today said
The Bush ad appears as if it takes place in an Olympic venue.
it would continue running the controversial commercials through Sunday.

The White House/USOC row went public yesterday when the Olympic Committee confirmed that it had officially asked the president's campaign to cease airing TV spots that feature swimmers from Afghanistan and Iraq competing in what appears to be an Olympic venue.

'Two more free nations'
A voice over in the ad says, "In 1972 there were 40 democracies in the world. Today, 120. Freedom is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise. And this Olympics there will be two more free nations. And two fewer terrorist regimes. With strength, resolve and courage, democracy will triumph over terror. And hope will defeat hatred."

The spot ends with the tagline, "President Bush. Moving America Forward."

Iraqi Olympic athletes have complained about the spot, which is currently airing on U.S. cable networks during Olympic coverage (the Bush-Cheney campaign also made an additional buy with the ClubCom's Health Club TV network, which broadcasts to health clubs around the country).

No immediate comment
NBC Universal, which is airing Olympic coverage on its broadcast and cable stations, declined to comment immediately, while CNN, which is also airing the campaign spot, did not immediately return calls for comment.

The USOC yesterday made its request public in Athens, asking the White House to cease running the ads that blend the Olympics into the U.S. presidential race.

A spokesman for the Bush campaign today told AdAge.com that the ad would continue airing until Sunday, when the Olympic Games close. "We are on firm legal ground to mention the Olympics to make a factual point in a political advertisement. The ad reflects the president's optimism that freedom is overcoming terror, and democracy is spreading throughout the world," he said.

Unauthorized use
The Olympic Committee said it wants the ads pulled because it does not allow the unauthorized use of Olympic imagery. A spokeswoman for the USOC today declined to elaborate on the reasoning but pointed to a 1999 congress act that gives the organization special powers over the use of its brand and terms such as "Olympiad." In addition, the International Olympic Committee is a nonpartisan organization that does not associate itself with political campaigns.

Gerhard Heiberg, head of the International Olympic Marketing Committee, was quoted by Reuters this afternoon as saying, "We are following what is happening and hope the campaign will stop."

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