Presidential Contender Launches 3-Week National Cable Effort

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WASHINGTON ( -- The presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry is set to break its most expensive round of advertising, a three-week, $27.5 million effort that includes the campaign's first national ads.

Biographical ads
Two 60-second ads about the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts will begin airing tomorrow in 19 states, and either 60- or 30-second versions of the ad will also air nationally on cable networks CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.

While President George Bush's campaign has been buying national cable advertising for several months as part of its re-election effort, the Kerry campaign has been buying only in contested states.

Campaign officials today said the decision to buy national cable reflected a desire to boost Mr. Kerry's profile, reinforce supporters and also to help raise cash.

"National cable advertising is good for us," said Tad Devine, a strategist and principal in the campaign's ad agency, Shrum, Devine and Donilon. "It helps us not just in winning the key states but in achieving [recognition]."

War service
Kerry officials today claimed that the Bush campaign's $60 million worth of attack ads haven't worked. Officials said that instead of responding directly to the president's assertions -- that Sen. Kerry is soft on defense and wishy-washy on positions -- the two new ads focus on Sen. Kerry's background, such as his service in Vietnam (some of the men Sen. Kerry saved during combat are interviewed) as well as his work in the Senate on health care.

Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said voters want to hear "how to make America stronger, not to tear America down."

Mr. Devine said the Bush campaign had made "fundamental mistakes" in running early attack ads, assuming Mr. Kerry wouldn't have the money to respond and the attacks would resonate with swing voters. He said the biographical ads will give voters the opportunity to assess the two candidates for themselves.

"Every piece of evidence we have is that voters are turning off [the Bush ads]," he said.

Mike Donilon, another partner at the ad agency, said the Bush ads reflected a campaign "where the president of U.S. has walked away from his core message," and his campaign has decided that to get him re-elected it "will have to destroy John Kerry."

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