(CNSNews.com) - In the latest flap over Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's war record, a liberal group is accusing the Republican Party of employing its "usual dirty tricks" to fund and coordinate the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Campaign.
The liberal Moveon.org political action committee begins running a 30-second television ad on Tuesday, criticizing President Bush for failing to stop a Republican benefactor from unleashing the Swift Boat Veterans campaign.
That campaign accused Kerry of exaggerating his wartime injuries and stated Kerry was unfit to serve as U.S. commander-in-chief. Kerry received three purple hearts for injuries suffered in Vietnam.
Swift Boat Veterans for Truth "is a clear Republican Party front," according to the Moveon.org ad, which will run nationwide and in local markets in Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin -- three of the so-called "battleground" states in this year's presidential election.
The ad calls on Bush to denounce Texas GOP donor Robert J. Perry and the veterans behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The group's attacks on Kerry's war record, detailed in the new book, "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out against John Kerry" are "false and misleading," according to MoveOn.org.
Bush's political director, Karl Rove and the Republicans "are up to their usual dirty tricks," MoveOn.org PAC Director Eli Pariser stated in a release. "Once again, they're funding and coordinating an outrageous smear campaign while denying their involvement and refusing to condemn it ... Tactics like these should have no place in American politics, and, with one call, George W. Bush could stop them."
The MoveOn.org ad is called "Swift Response," and it compares footage of a young George Bush in his National Guard uniform with a young John Kerry in Vietnam.
"George Bush used his father to get into the National Guard, and ... when the chips were down, went missing," the MoveOn.org ad alleges, echoing Democratic charges that Bush was absent without leave while in the National Guard. The president's supporters say he fulfilled all of the requirements imposed on him by the Guard.
The criticism of Kerry's war record and his leadership role with an anti-war group when he returned to the U.S., peaked during the Democratic National Convention. While Kerry had 13 of his Vietnam War crewmates vouching for his character, another group of veterans was protesting Kerry's nomination.
He's a phony and he's a traitor," said Vietnam veteran Rich Burke, 66, of Boston. "He returned from Vietnam and testified in Congress that the military were baby killers and war criminals. He abandoned and left all of his comrades to put up with that sort of statement. He's no good."
Another veteran combined his criticism of Kerry with that of famed actress and anti-war protester Jane Fonda.
"Because of people like Kerry and Fonda, Vietnam vets had to hide under a rock for 15 years," said Reg Cornelia, 60, of East Hampton, N.Y. "He came back and he lied about the atrocities, and worse still, he brought guys to testify before Congress who he knew had never served in Vietnam."