Swift Boat Veterans for Truth launched its fourth ad today, questioning John Kerry’s trustworthiness for renouncing his Vietnam War medals more than 30 years ago.
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Kerry led Vietnam veterans in 1971 medal-toss protest.
The ad, which can be viewed at the group’s website, will begin with a $400,000 TV buy in Florida and a $35,000 buy in Nashville where Kerry will speak tomorrow at the American Legion convention.
The swiftboat vets’ second ad, featuring POWs recounting the demoralizing impact of Kerry’s claim that U.S. soldiers systematically committed atrocities, is being run nationally with an $800,000 cable-TV buy. The commercial has aired today on CNN and the Fox News Channel.
President Bush will address the American Legion today along with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former POW.
The script of the new ad reads:
VOICE OVER: Symbols. They represent the best things about America.
Freedom … Valor … Sacrifice.
Symbols, like the heroes they represent, are meant to be respected.
Some didn’t share that respect…and turned their backs on their brothers.
KERRY: …renounce the symbols which this country gives… …and that was the medals themselves…I gave back – I can’t remember – six, seven, eight, nine…”
VOICE OVER: How can the man who renounced his country’s symbols now be trusted?
Swift Boat Veterans for truth is responsible for the content of this advertisement.
In the group’s third ad, one of Kerry’s crew members accuses the presidential candidate of lying, charging he falsely claimed to have spent Christmas in Cambodia in 1968.
The first TV commercial quoted Kerry’s Vietnam comrades calling him a liar, questioning his honor, accusing him of misrepresenting his actions for medals and attacking his character.
Medals and ribbons
The latest ad uses a clip from a 1971 interview with WRC-TV in Washington in which Kerry admitted throwing away his medals over a fence at the U.S. Capitol.
But earlier this year, April 26, Kerry told Charles Gibson of “Good Morning America” he didn’t toss his medals, insisting he threw away ribbons, which he regarded as the same thing.
“I stood up in front of my nation and took the ribbons off my chest” and then threw them over the fence, he said.
Back then, he emphasized, “ribbons, medals were absolutely interchangeable.”
Gibson said he was a witness of Kerry’s actions 33 years ago.
“I saw you throw medals over the fence, and we didn’t find out until later … that those were someone else’s medals,” Gibson said.
“Charlie, Charlie, you’re wrong,” Kerry interjected. “That is not what happened. I threw my ribbons across … .”
After interrupting several times, Kerry clarified that in addition to his own ribbons, he tossed two medals belonging to two veterans. Kerry’s campaign website says he “threw his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event.”
The Boston Globe quoted Kerry after the April 23, 1971 event, saying, “In a real sense, this administration forced us to return our medals because beyond the perversion of the war, these leaders themselves denied us the integrity those symbols supposedly gave our lives.”
But Kerry revealed during his first U.S. Senate run in 1984 he still had his medals, having invited a wary union official to his home to inspect his Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.
In an interview with the National Journal in 1988, Kerry clarified his statement again, declaring he threw out the ribbons awarded for his Purple Hearts, but not the medals.
In 1996, he told the Boston Globe he tossed his ribbons but not his medals because he “didn’t have time to go home [to New York] and get them.”