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Defense, John McCain, Senate Race, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:24 PM

A veterans advocacy group launched a $350,000 television ad buy against John McCain in Virginia on Wednesday, savaging the senator for skipping a GI Bill vote in favor of a campaign fundraiser.

"Vet to vet, Senator McCain, when you put money from your rich friends ahead of vets like me, how is that 'Country First?'" asks Jason Bensley, an Iraq War veteran, in "GI Bill" (subscription).

Jon Soltz, chairman of, explained that the group is running the ad in the Old Dominion because of the large number of veterans in the state and because Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) sponsored the bill. The ad is slated to air for just under two weeks.

In the ad, Bensley notes that McCain himself received a free education from the Naval Academy. The service academies are not affected by the GI Bill. But Soltz said that's the point: The government prioritizes free tuition "just for the elite officers, and that’s not appropriate." has targeted McCain for his failure to support the new GI Bill before. Soltz and retired Gen. Wesley Clark wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times in April encouraging McCain to support the bill, and the group ran a TV spot in the D.C. media market on the eve of the vote calling on McCain to support the legislation.

The new ad is part of a larger, $1.3 million campaign announced Thursday. The group is also spending $200,000 to run a TV spot targeting Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., for voting against a bill that would have provided better body armor for troops.

Defense, Foreign Policy, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 5:13 PM

Iraq has taken some of the limelight back from the weak economy this week as both Barack Obama and John McCain have talked up the topic on the presidential trail. Two third-party groups, meanwhile, are up with new ads calling out certain lawmakers on the war.

Vets For Freedom continues its campaign highlighting the success of the surge strategy in Iraq with its latest ad (subscription), launching today in five battleground states. Political Action, meanwhile, is chastising (subscription) McCain on national cable for not supporting a timetable to withdraw troops from the region.

In the Vets For Freedom spot, called “Some In Washington,” seven veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan call out Washington critics -- specifically Obama and Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. -- for saying early on that the surge would fail. "Some in Washington told us the war was lost," one veteran says. “Others said the surge would fail,” another asserts. "Today, even the harshest critics agree: The surge worked," another one says. The ad concludes by reiterating the message of the group's first ad (subscription): "Finish the job" in Iraq. Political Action, on the other hand, isn't too happy about McCain’s rejection of a timetable. In “Timetable,” a narrator says that the Arizona senator is at odds with everyone -- both at home and abroad -- on this issue. "In Chicago, in St. Louis and in Seattle, the American people are demanding a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq," the narrator says. "In Baghdad and Basra and Tikrit, the Iraqi people -- and now the Iraqi prime minister -- are also demanding a timetable. But John McCain doesn't want a timetable."

Continue reading Of Surges And Timetables

Defense, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 12:36 PM

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark's comments casting doubt on how John McCain's military experience prepares him for the presidency must have really irked the Arizona senator. The campaign is up today with a new ad that couldn’t make any clearer the "Love" (subscription) McCain feels for his country -- and how this patriotism qualifies him to be president over Barack Obama.

The ad opens with images of 1967’s "Summer of Love," complete with hippies protesting the war and frolicking with each other. The announcer then shifts into a more somber note: "Half a world away, another kind of love -- of country. John McCain: Shot down. Bayoneted. Tortured." Speaking over pictures of McCain serving in Vietnam, the announcer stresses how the Republican's patriotism has shone through during his time overseas and his years in Congress. "His philosophy: before party, polls and self -- America," the announcer says.

The spot then makes a direct attack on Obama's infamous "change we can believe in" rhetoric and "hope" slogan. "John McCain doesn't always tell us what we 'hope' to hear. Beautiful words cannot make our lives better." The ad concludes with one more jab at the Democrat: "Don't 'hope' for a better life. Vote for one."

While the Illinois senator has been accused of flip-flopping on a number of key issues, including his stance on the Iraq war, McCain has capitalized by highlighting his comparably steadfast and consistent record on the war.

Defense, Senate Race, Television Ad

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 11:30 AM

Colorado Rep. Mark Udall (D) isn't afraid to talk about the war on terror. During his bid to represent Colorado in the Senate, that's meant taking jabs at his GOP opponent, former Congressman Bob Schaffer, for "rubber-stamping" the Iraq war, showing his support for the 21st Century GI Bill on the steps of the state Capitol and, most recently, outlining his plans to protect the country in two new TV ads.

"It isn't just something you see; security is something you feel," Udall says in "Respected" (subscription), which began airing Tuesday in Denver. "That's why we've got to defeat al-Qaida where they're based -- in Afghanistan -- and finally hunt down Osama bin Laden."

Udall's other recent spot (subscription), released May 30 throughout Colorado, touches on his plans to revamp the military. "These days, maybe you're wondering, isn't there a better way to protect America?" Udall says in the ad. "I think so. Add an entire new division to our Army. Do right by our veterans."

Continue reading One-Two Punch In Colorado

Defense, John McCain, Senate Race, Television Ad

Friday, May 23, 2008 4:15 PM

That's what a handful of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans asked John McCain and fellow GOP Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in two new ads released this week to precede the Senate's consideration of the bipartisan 21st-century GI bill. The bill passed the Senate on Thursday as part of a larger war spending package that President Bush has threatened to veto.

The veterans in the ads claim that the bill, sponsored by Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., offers them complete educational benefits, and they urge the senators to support it.

The ad targeting McCain and the one targeting Cornyn, who is facing a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Rick Noriega, are virtually identical, except the former contends that a substitute bill McCain has introduced would only provide partial benefits. "McCain thinks covering a fraction of our education is enough," one of the veterans says. "We didn't give a fraction in Iraq," says another. "We gave 100 percent."

Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of, continues to have high hopes for the Webb-Hagel bill.

"We'll consider any and all means we can to ensure that the president signs the bill, and if he doesn't, make sure that Congress knows that overriding a veto means supporting our troops," Soltz said. "It's that simple."

Defense, Television Ad

Thursday, April 17, 2008 3:46 PM

Some pundits have placed Condoleezza Rice on the short list of potential vice presidential nominees for John McCain, but one coalition of liberal activists doesn't think the secretary of state should even be allowed to keep her current position. and Democracy for America partnered with activist filmmaker Robert Greenwald's production company to run what they call a "smoking gun" advertisement on Philadelphia airwaves during Wednesday night's Democratic debate. Citing recent news reports suggesting that Rice condoned the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody, "Condi Must Go" (subscription) argues that Rice has acted illegally while in office.

The spot juxtaposes congressional testimony in which Rice said that "the United States doesn't and can't condone torture" with revelations that "the president's top advisers personally approved specific" harsh interrogation methods. "Rice personally told the CIA: 'This is your baby. Go do it,'" the ad says. It directs viewers to a Web site,, where they can sign a petition calling for her removal from office.

Defense, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, March 31, 2008 11:43 AM

After two weeks spent visiting the Middle East and attempting to narrow the fundraising lead of his Democratic rivals, John McCain returns to the trail in earnest today with what his campaign is billing as a biographical tour showcasing his service to the country. And as part of its efforts to focus attention on McCain's résumé, his campaign also released the first general election ad of the campaign season, a biographical spot calling him "the American president Americans have been waiting for."

The new TV spot  (subscription), which debuted in New Mexico on Friday, features shots of the Arizona senator striking determined poses as a voice-over by actor Powers Boothe introduces him as a candidate who believes "that liberty is priceless" and has "walked the walk." Like previous McCain ads  (subscription), this one makes use of footage of a young McCain being questioned by his North Vietnamese captors to remind viewers of his time as a prisoner of war.

As the first media buy from the Republican nominee-to-be in nearly two months, the ad sheds light on McCain's strategy for the general election and, more specifically, how his camp plans to capitalize on the ongoing Democratic stalemate. Between the ad and his biography-focused campaign swing, McCain is setting out to define himself (as an experienced, patriotic war hero) before his opponent has the chance to. With McCain's political celebrity -- particularly in the Southwest -- there isn't really another reason for him to invest in a traditional bio spot.

Continue reading McCain's General Election Debut



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