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Campaigns Square Off Over Mentions of Nazis

June 26, 2004|Nick Anderson | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Controversy over references to Nazi Germany as part of the 2004 presidential campaign flared anew Friday, after President Bush's campaign posted a video on its website noting that a liberal advocacy group had linked him to images of Adolf Hitler this year.

Republicans said the Bush video illustrated a "coalition of the wild-eyed" backing Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee. It included two clips originally found on the website of the anti-Bush group MoveOn.org.

Those clips, submitted to MoveOn.org in January as part of a television advertising contest, compared him to Hitler, using images of the dictator.

MoveOn.org leaders removed the clips from their website and renounced them. But Republicans charged at the time -- and continue to assert -- that MoveOn.org stepped over the line of acceptable political discourse by allowing its website to contain such material.

A Kerry aide on Friday denounced Bush for including the Hitler images in the new video.

"It doesn't have any place in the campaign," said spokesman Phil Singer. He called the Bush video "remarkably insensitive to the sacrifices of the millions of people who lost their lives during Hitler's reign of terror."

Eli Pariser, executive director of the MoveOn Political Action Committee, said, "The Republicans know full well that this 'Hitler' ad was never sanctioned or aired by MoveOn."

The Bush campaign stood by its video, which was posted prominently on its website and e-mailed to 6 million supporters. "This web video captures the anger, hatred and vitriol that emanates on a daily basis from John Kerry's campaign coalition," said spokesman Steve Schmidt.

Bush's video included clips of 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, filmmaker Michael Moore and Kerry.

Schmidt noted that Gore on Thursday used a reference to Nazi Germany in an anti-Bush speech in Washington. Gore accused the administration of working closely "with a network of rapid-response digital brown shirts who work to pressure reporters and their editors

"Brown shirts" is a phrase commonly used to describe Hitler's Nazi thugs.

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