GOP To Run TV Ad For Bush

BushThoughtful: President Bush speaks to media Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003, during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House.
The Republican Party, fearing President Bush's popularity has been eroded by months of attacks by Democratic rivals, is responding with its first television commercial of the presidential race.

The commercial, which will be seen just a few times in two early voting states, portrays the president as fighting terrorism while suggesting Democrats are retreating from the fight.

The commercial shows Mr. Bush during the last State of the Union address warning of continued threats. "Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power," Mr. Bush said after the screen flashes the words, "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."

It marks the White House's most obvious attempt to reap political gain from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by reminding Americans of Bush's leadership in the aftermath.

Republican Party officials said they were spending about $100,000 — a relatively small amount — to broadcast the ad in Iowa on Sunday, a day before a televised Democratic debate. It will run through Tuesday and perhaps again in New Hampshire about the time of a debate there in two weeks.

The small buy seemed designed to make a statement to political activists and journalists more so than voters because it will not be seen by a large number of people in Iowa or New Hampshire. Indeed, Republican officials across the country have grown anxious as Bush's popularity has plummeted amid constant violence in Iraq and have clamored for a more muscular response from the White House.

However, the White House sought to distance itself from the commercial by having it produced by the Republican National Committee instead of the president's re-election campaign. The party stands in for Bush when he tries to maintain the appearance of being above the political fray. Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie told The Associated Press earlier in the week the party would soon air its first ad.

The 30-second ad, first reported by The New York Times, displays the advantages Bush has as president with stirring music playing in the background, and flashes the words, "Strong and principled leadership" before showing Bush standing before Congress. It suggests that Democrats are less than strong against terrorism by flashing the words, "Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others." It urges viewers to tell Congress to support the president's policies.