A Republican hoping to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton this fall is running a television ad that pairs Clinton's face with Osama bin Laden's and accuses her of opposing national security programs that may have helped thwart a terror plot on U.S.-bound flights from London.
The ad by former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer's campaign suggests Clinton is "playing politics with national security." It shows images of newspaper headlines about the terror plot, followed by photos of Clinton and bin Laden.
"Senator Hillary Clinton opposed the Patriot Act and the NSA program that helped stop another 9/11. She'd leave us vulnerable," the narrator says.
Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson called the ad factually inaccurate. Clinton voted for the Patriot Act, which expanded the federal government's ability to track terror suspects, in 2001. Last year, she was part of a Democrat-led filibuster that forced Republicans to accept curbs on the government's power to investigate suspects, but she then voted to renew expiring sections of the Patriot Act.
"Mr. Spencer's history of making wild-eyed angry falsehoods like these are among the many reasons why no one takes him or his campaign seriously," Wolfson said.
The ad also includes a spelling error: The words "Islamic fascists still hate us" appear on the screen early in the ad, but "fascist" is spelled "facist."
In the past, political ads linking lawmakers to bin Laden, the al Qaeda mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, have been highly controversial.
In 2002, Republicans used an image of bin Laden in an ad questioning whether Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who opposed a Bush homeland security bill, had the courage to lead. Cleland, a Democrat who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War, was ultimately defeated by Republican Saxby Chambliss.
Spencer spokesman Rob Ryan defended the Clinton ad Tuesday.
"The ad speaks for itself," he said. "It's about the failure of Senator Clinton to take proper action to defend the state in a time of war."
Spencer faces Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland for the GOP nomination to challenge the heavily favored Clinton. The primary is Sept. 12.