Rivers calls for Bush political ads to be pulled

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(Host) President Bush’s new television campaign ads are becoming an issue in Vermont politics. Cheryl Rivers, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, says the use of footage from the September eleventh terrorist attacks in the political ads is “morally unconscionable.” She’s calling on Vermont Republican leaders to urge the president to pull these ads.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The president’s new TV ads feature brief scenes at Ground Zero in New York City. There are shots of the charred skeleton framework of the World Trade Towers and there’s a picture of firefighters carrying a flag draped body on a stretcher.

The ads have become very controversial. Some relatives of the victims have denounced them while others say the ads are in good taste and highlight the president’s leadership on national security issues.

Rivers says footage from the September 11 attacks should never be used in campaign advertisements. She called on Governor Jim Douglas and Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie – as co chairs of the Bush Re-election committee in Vermont – to urge the president to stop running these spots:

(Rivers) “This was an American tragedy, not a Republican one. And the images in these ads are not of the president’s response but of the destruction and sorrow of that horrible day. And they’re intensely personal images to all of us and much so for the families of the fallen and the firefighters. So I believe it is simply inappropriate for any politician to try and make political hay out of the national tragedy.”

(Kinzel) Dubie has some direct experience with the September 11 attacks. He helped organize the distribution of materials and equipment that were needed in the aftermath of the attacks, and he knew the pilot who’s plane was crashed into the Pentagon. Dubie says he hasn’t seen the ads but he had nothing but praise for the way that the president handled the situation in New York in the days following the attacks:

(Dubie) “But I was in New York City when President Bush came and thanked me and thousands of rescue workers, firefighters there. I met President Bush at Ground Zero. His physical presence there made a huge impact to not only myself but the other thousands of rescue workers.”

(Kinzel) It’s not clear if Dubie plans to be a candidate for re-election. He said on Friday that he hasn’t made a final decision about seeking a second term in office.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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