Bush castigates Kerry kickbacks in ad debut

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The Bush-Cheney ad team has come out with guns blazing against 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 Maverick Media ad team and placed on the campaign Web site (www.georgewbush.com) Feb. 12 and also sent to six million Republicans by e-mail-portrays Massachusetts Sen. Mr. Kerry as a tool of special interests.

Dubbed "Unprincipled, Chapter 1" the spot features a Web search page overshadowed by videos of Mr. 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 and an announcer says, "millions from executives at HMOs, telecoms, drug companies. Ka-Ching! Unprincipled."

not for general public

Mark McKinnon, head of the Maverick Media ad 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 Mr. Kerry has raised in his primary campaign. "It is aimed at the six 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, said that when actual advertising launches, it will include "a broad menu of communications."

The Kerry campaign in 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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