Bush Denounces Ads by Outside Groups

This one is getting big headlines at Drudge for no apparent reason:

Bush Denounces Ads by Outside Groups (AP)

President Bush denounced TV ads by outside groups attacking both John Kerry and himself on Monday and called for a halt to all such political efforts. “I think they’re bad for the system,” he said. The president made his comments as the Kerry campaign fought back against charges made by an outside group that the Democratic senator had lied about wartime events in Vietnam for which he received five medals.


Bush has himself been subjected to a multimillion-dollar barrage of attack ads aired by groups seeking to help Kerry win the White House.

Underscoring the impact of the anti-Kerry ad, the Democratic National Committee began airing a commercial last week that offered a testimonial to Kerry’s fitness for national command. And in a shift in strategy, Kerry’s campaign has responded with two commercials, despite plans to preserve its campaign funds for the general election campaign.

Kerry running mate John Edwards said Sunday that Bush needed to tell the veterans group to pull its anti-Kerry ads. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has said the tactics are the same kind used on him and asked the president to denounce them.

The White House says it denounces all attack ads against both candidates by outside groups, while refusing to get specific about condemning the veterans group’s advertising.

I say “no apparent reason” because this is exactly the stance the Bush team has taken since Day 1. And it’s the correct stance, in my view. Bush has no basis for criticizing the particulars of this ad campaign, alienating a presumably sizable portion of his constituency, over a factual dispute that will sort itself out. Further, given that the 527 attack ads are coming almost entirely from the other side, it would be odd for him to advocate unilateral disarmament.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Of course, its news because of how Kerry has accused Bush of not denouncing the ads. Well, now he has, this time while everyone was listening. Hopefully, this will be good enough for normal people (fringe leftists won’t be satisfied with anything short of a resignation from Bush).

  2. Paul says:

    The cables are saying that since he actually used the word “denounce” it is something special…

    I report you wonder why.

  3. Jeff Harrell says:

    I think this is newsworthy because over the weekend the Kerry campaign appealed to the Bush campaign to call off the dogs, essentially. Today’s statement by the President serves several purposes.

    First, it’s a civics lesson: neither the President nor the Bush Cheney ’04 organization has the power to tell another organization what to say. This is something that some folks on the Kerry campaign seem to have forgotten.

    Second, it gets the conversation back onto the topic: unregulated money. This isn’t about what Kerry did or didn’t do in Vietnam (though that’s certainly an important question, given that Kerry’s personal statements seem to contradict the record on so many points). This is about unregulated political donations and the effect such “soft money” has on the system. That’s what the President wants us to talk about, and now we are.

    Finally, this little statement puts the President squarely on the moral high ground. When Move On and ACT were bringing in the donations hand over fist, the Democrats said nothing. Now that SBVFT, an organization that’s raised less than a million dollars last I heard, has said some damning things about Kerry, the Democrats are clamoring for the President to denounce them. What does he do? He denounces them. “Okay,” the President said. “Now it’s your turn. Let’s work together to get rid of all 527’s and other campaign-finance loopholes.”

    The implied question hangs in the air, unspoken but heard by all: “Or do the Democrats only speak out against soft money when it hurts them?”

  4. legion says:

    Just remember this the next time MoveOn or some other lefty outfit takes shots at GW’s Air Guard record, or his past alcoholism, or some other below-the-belt target. If Bush gets a ‘pass’ on this issue, so does Kerry.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Kerry’s gotten a pass on all of them so far. Democratic 527s have far, far outspent their Republican counterparts. The Swifties have gotten a lot of acclaim but did this on a shoestring budget.

    And, hell, Michael Moore is a one man anti-Bush propaganda machine. Kerry gets zero flack for that from the press. Ditto Whoopi Goldberg, etc.

  6. Ted Barlow says:

    “Kerry’s personal statements seem to contradict the record on so many points”

    How do you mean? I know that he was off by a month about when he was in Cambodia. What are some of the other points where Kerry’s statments contradict the record?

  7. Ian S. says:

    I really love the deep irony of McCain complaining about 527 attack ads given that he cosponsored the law which brought them into being.

  8. McGehee says:

    Just remember this the next time MoveOn or some other lefty outfit takes shots at GW’s Air Guard record, or his past alcoholism, or some other below-the-belt target.

    Legion — you expect us to be angry if MoveOn.org does that? Sure, we’ll say such things are uncalled for, but secretly we’ll be exchanging high-fives.

  9. capt joe says:

    Ted, I think there is a genuine question as to whether it was even possible for Kerry to say he was in cambodia at all.

    But hey, when he releases his complete records relating to the actual opeartions (perhaps even his medical records) then we will be able to separate truth from fiction. And no, he has not released everything yet. He has authorized only a subset yet. And yes, Bush has released everything. The last missing records only a month or so ago.

  10. Jeff Harrell says:

    Ted, please don’t take this personally, but where’ve you been? 😉

    I’m not about to attempt a full recitation of all the discrepancies between Kerry’s remarks and the historical record; there’s too much. If you’re looking for a complete list, because you’ve been living in a cave on Mars with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears or something, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding one elsewhere.

    His fibs aren’t limited to Vietnam, either. Remember his assertion that he didn’t own an SUV (made before an environmental group) followed by his boasting about all the SUV’s he owns (made before Detroit auto workers)? His explanation? I don’t own them. My family owns them.

    Whatever. At best, Kerry has a very loose interpretation of the word “truth.”

  11. zz says:

    Sorry, Ted, but Kerry’s own journal suggests he was never in Cambodia:

    Now a new official statement from the campaign undercuts Brinkley. It offers a minimal (thus harder to impeach) claim: that Kerry “on one occasion crossed into Cambodia,” on an unspecified date. But at least two of the shipmates who are supporting Kerry’s campaign (and one who is not) deny their boat ever crossed the border, and their testimony on this score is corroborated by Kerry’s own journal, kept while on duty. One passage reproduced in Brinkley’s book says: “The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side.” His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry’s final mission.