Bush deploys new attack ad

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 16, 2004 8:36PM (EST)

Bush-Cheney '04 spits out another anti-Kerry attack ad in the "Kerry: wrong on defense" vein, this one running today in the swing state of West Virginia. Called "Troops," the ad accuses John Kerry of voting against funding for troops, against body armor for troops in combat, against higher combat pay and against health care for reservists and their families.

Something tells us there's more to this story. The Kerry D-bunker blog goes to work taking the ad apart. The Kerry campaign says he was a lead sponsor of an amendment to fund the troops in Iraq by rescinding a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. Kerry's vote against $87 billion in post-war funding was not a vote against the troops, Kerry says, but a vote against Bush's failed policies. Kerry's quote: "The best way to support our troops and take the target off their backs is with a real strategy to win the peace in Iraq -- not by throwing $87 billion at George Bush's failed policies. I am voting 'no' on the Iraq resolution to hold the President accountable and force him finally to develop a real plan that secures the safety of our troops and stabilizes Iraq."

"The Bush-Cheney campaign has the gall to call into question John Kerry's support of troops in combat or in the reserves -- which is a ludicrous assumption considering Kerry WAS one of those service members when he fought in combat in Vietnam and spent 6 years in the Naval Reserves when he returned from war," D-bunker says.

The Kerry campaign also issued a series of quotes from retired generals who said the U.S. troops in Iraq were short on armor before the war and spent the most dangerous part of the war without adequate armor. D-bunker goes on with various other rebuttals to the Bush ad, saying the administration was not prepared for prolonged involvement in Iraq, is forcing troops to endure back to back deployments and has underpaid soldiers and cut their benefits.

Here's FactCheck.org's take on it. Bottom line: Yes, Kerry voted against the $87 billion. "But it is also true, as Kerry has been saying, that Bush sent U.S. troops to Iraq with too little of the best-grade body armor to equip all who needed it." And FactCheck points out that the body-armor money amounted to just over 1/3 of 1 percent of the $87 billion supplemental bill Kerry opposed.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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