Swift Boat Vets, Texans Battle for ‘Truth’

LOS ANGELES The sixth ad from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, accusing Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry of having betrayed his country, broke yesterday in six battleground states, a representative for the organization said. At the same time, the political interest group Texans for Truth launched its second salvo calling on President George W. Bush to release all his military records.

The Swift Boat group of more than 250 Vietnam veterans who served with Kerry will back its ad with a $1.3 million media buy in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Nevada and New Mexico. Led by John O’Neill, author of Unfit for Command, the Swift Boat vets claim their “grassroots” campaign has now raised nearly $7 million.

The 30-second spot reports a clandestine meeting Kerry undertook with Viet Cong leaders in Paris in 1970. Narration, titles and a historical photo montage compare this meeting to actress Jane Fonda’s visit to Hanoi “to meet with the enemy and mock America,” according to the voiceover. “John Kerry secretly met with enemy leaders in Paris,” the announcer continues, “though we were still at war and Americans were being held in North Vietnamese prison camps. Then he returned and accused American troops of committing war crimes on a daily basis.” The ad says that Fonda “apologized for her activities” but that Kerry has not. It ends with “Can America trust a man who betrayed his country?”

The Texans for Truth ad will begin running Monday in Harrisburg, Pa., Columbus, Ohio, Portland, Ore., Phoenix and Detroit, and air for four days. Those markets were selected for suffering a high number of military casualties, and for being still hotly contested states, said a representative from Fenton Communications, San Francisco, which is handling the media outreach for Margie Becker & Associates in Austin, Texas, the creative agency for the ad. The Fenton rep said the spend would be $100,000.

The 30-second spot, called “Choose Honor,” distances itself from criticism of National Guard duty by lauding the service of troops now serving. The spot also uses historical photos as a voiceover asserts that “George Bush walked away from his duty to the nation and to the National Guard. His father got him into the guard, and out of the guard.” The spot then calls upon President Bush to sign an order releasing all his military records, as the commercial asserts he had promised he would. Texans for Truth is a 527 group led by Glenn Smith, the executive director of DriveDemocracy.org.