Democratic Ad Challenges “These Are the Stakes”

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Countering the Republican National Committee’s now-infamous TV ad quoting Osama bin Laden, Democrats today began airing a television spot arguing that the Iraq occupation has spread the military too thin, increased terrorism and diverted attention from seeking bin Laden’s capture. It features arguments by three Iraq veterans—one of them an amputee—and retired General Wesley Clark, each of whom repeat the words, “because of Iraq.”

The 30-second ad comes 11 days after Republicans began showing a 60-second spot suggesting the GOP was the only party capable of combating terrorism. To the sound of a ticking clock it featured a sepia-toned montage of terrorist leaders and their underlings carrying weapons, burning things and kicking people. It concluded: “These are the stakes.” (The ad mirrored President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Cold-War-era “Daisy” ad, which helped re-elect him during the Vietnam War. That ad juxtaposed a girl plucking a daisy against an exploding nuclear bomb, saying, “These are the stakes to make a world in which all God’s children can live or go into the dark.”)

Sponsored by the VoteVets PAC, today’s Democratic retort builds on the party’s efforts to decouple the Iraq war from the War on Terror. It closes with Clark standing in front of a replay of the bin Laden ad like a well-dressed schoolteacher. “So, if you see commercials, telling you to be afraid of terrorism,” he says, “remember, it’s because of Iraq.”

Meanwhile, the RNC moved on to more fertile national security terrain today, replacing the bin Laden ad on the front page of its website with a new spot calling on Sen. John Kerry to apologize for his comment yesterday that a poor education leads “you (to) get stuck in Iraq.” Kerry said he’d meant to imply that Bush was uneducated, but the Republican ad suggested he was impugning rank-and-file soldiers—it juxtaposed the comment with quotes from Republicans lauding the troops.

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