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Kerry's Senate Intelligence Votes Targeted

August 17, 2004

The 30-second television ad began airing Monday on cable nationally and in local media markets in 19 states, most of which are hotly contested. The Bush campaign would not disclose how much was being spent to air the ad, which is titled "Intel," but described the latest effort as "a very significant buy."

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Bush-Cheney 2004

Script:

Voice: "John Kerry promises..."

John Kerry: "I will immediately reform the intelligence system."

Voice: "Oh really. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Kerry was absent for 76% of the committee's hearings."

Voice: "In the year after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Kerry was absent for every single one."

Voice: "That same year he proposed slashing America's intelligence budget by $6 billion."

Voice: "There's what Kerry says and then there's what Kerry does."

Images: Sen. John F. Kerry is shown on a flat-screen television to the right of the viewer's screen, apparently giving his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. As he speaks, smiles and gestures, graphics appear to the left of the viewer's screen, variously spelling out, "John Kerry ... ABSENT 76% of public Senate Intelligence Committee Hearings." Then, "John Kerry ... ABSENT every single public Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing," and "John Kerry

Analysis: With "Intel," President Bush is departing from several weeks of airing only positive ads that generally referred to his experience on national security and world events. Two other Bush ads are running, including one referring to the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks, with Bush talking about bringing enemies to justice. An Olympic-themed ad called "Victory" is also on the air; it lauds the rise in the number of democratic countries since 1972 and cites Iraq and Afghanistan as joining their ranks. The voice-over declares: "Freedom is spreading throughout the world like a sunrise."

In this ad, Bush makes the argument that Kerry has been negligent in fighting terrorism. The Bush campaign is targeting Kerry's actions of a decade ago, rather than the initiatives that the Democratic candidate supports today, such as immediately implementing the suggestions of the Sept. 11 commission.

The Kerry campaign declined to specify whether the ad accurately reflected Kerry's attendance at public hearings by the Senate Intelligence Committee. He served on the committee from 1993 to 2000. However, the staff argued that the committee's public hearings were 20% of its total meetings, and that most were held in private. As a result, they say, Bush is misleading viewers about Kerry's attendance. But his attendance at private committee meetings is impossible to document, the Bush campaign says, because attendance records cannot be released unless Kerry asks for them. He has not done so.

The Kerry campaign also argued that the allegation that Kerry proposed cutting the intelligence budget by $6 billion was misleading. Staffers said that his amendment to federal deficit reduction legislation in 1994 contained cuts to many programs throughout the federal government, including congressional salaries. They also argued that the cuts were proposed over several years. In addition, they noted that for at least two years, cuts in the actual intelligence budget were larger than proposed by Kerry. However, some Democratic senators at the time worried publicly that Kerry's proposal could hamper intelligence activities.

Compiled by Times staff writer Maria L. La Ganga

Los Angeles Times

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