The ad, an image of downtown Minneapolis caught in the crosshairs of a target, has a headline that reads, "When only one nuclear bomb could destroy a city like Minneapolis, we don't need 6,000." The subhead states, "Senator McCain: It's time to get serious about reducing the nuclear threat."
The offending ad by the Union of Concerned Scientists was called "scary" and "anti-McCain" by Northwest, which also happens to be the official airline of the Republican National Convention.
The activist group countered that the ad is scary for a reason -- nuclear weapons are, duh, dangerous.
In an e-mail to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Tammy Lee, Northwest's VP-corporate communications, wrote, "Out of an abundance of respect to both parties, we will not allow attack ads of any persuasion to be prominently displayed in any of our concourses. Our customers and employees complained and we responded. We will not be a party to petty political attacks on either side."
The UCS commissioned a similar ad for the Denver airport, featuring an image of that city with the same statement addressed to Sen. Barack Obama. Elliot Negin, a UCS spokesman, said the nonpartisan organization did not design the ads to be either anti-McCain or Obama. "In fact, both McCain and Obama largely agree with us that we need to rid the world of nuclear weapons," he said.
Both ads were scheduled to appear during the Democratic and Republican national conventions. Chuck Cannon, director of public affairs at the Denver International Airport, said that Clear Channel confirmed the scientist group has bought space for the ad, but could not confirm it was actually in place. "While no one has complained yet," he said, "my first response would not be to take it down."