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Bush campaign ads anger 9/11 victims' relatives

Dharam Shourie in New York | March 05, 2004 14:00 IST

The use of images depicting the September 11, 2001 terror strikes as part of US President George W Bush's election campaign commercials has earned the wrath of relatives of the victims of the attacks.
The controversy erupted as Bush's $ 100 million re-election campaign began airing the commercials with visuals of smouldering remains of the World Trade Center and firefighters emerging with a flag draped stretcher apparently carrying the body of a victim.

The ads referring to the terrorist attacks and to the  recent recession are designed to project Bush as a candidate determined to fight terrorism and offering "steady leadership in times of change."
The Republicans began running the ad after battle lines were clearly drawn with Senator John Kerry certain to take on President Bush in the November elections.

Relatives of several victims flayed the Bush campaign  for using the tragedy for making a political statement but others equally defended it, arguing the tragedy occurred during Bush presidency and he has the right to depict that he handled it ably.

Appearing on television networks, the Bush's campaign managers defended the advertisements. The ads, they said, are
appropriate in the campaign which is being waged in part on the candidates' ability to fight war against terror.
The Bush campaign would also argue that the commander should not be changed while the fight is still on. Some Republicans said Bush's defeat would send a wrong signal to the terrorists, a point being strongly contested by the  Kerry's campaign.

The International Associations of Fire Fighters Union in a resolution asked the Bush campaign to withdraw the ads and apologise to the families of the victims for "demeaning"  the memory of their loved ones.

But the Bush campaign questioned the association's authority to speak for the victims, arguing that it had already endorsed Kerry.

The advertisements are disgraceful as Bush has not done enough to adequately staff and equip the fire departments across the country, said union president Harold Schaitberger.

Media reports suggest that the Bush campaign will initially run ads projecting Bush in a positive light and then attempt to bring down Kerry.

The emphasis of the Bush campaign would be to project the President as plain speaking, honest and determined leader
who helped to put the country back on rails after the terrorist attacks.


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