With less than three weeks before election day, Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth has launched two final television ads today, bringing together in a large group Sen. John Kerry’s former Navy commanders and fellow officers and the ex-prisoners who contend his is unqualified to be president.

The 527 organization, producers of a best-seller calling Kerry “Unfit for Command,” paid $3 million to run the 60-second ads in the swing states of New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado. About $2 million will be spent in the crucial state of Ohio.

One ad, “They Served,” slowly pans a large gathering of the men who have “come forward to talk about the John Kerry they know.” The men assert they have “nothing to gain for themselves except the satisfaction that comes with telling the truth.”

The other commercial, titled “Why,” uses a similar scene of the men standing together at attention to summarize the previous seven ads. George “Bud” Day, who was with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in a North Vietnamese prison, underscores the vets’ anger toward John Kerry’s 1971 testimony accusing them of war crimes.

“How can you expect our sons and daughters to follow you when you condemned their fathers and grandfathers?” Day asks.

The text of “They Served” reads:

They served their country with courage and distinction. They’re the men who served with John Kerry in Vietnam. They’re his entire chain of command, most of the officers in Kerry’s unit, even the gunner on his own boat. And they’re the men who spent years in North Vietnamese prison camps, tortured for refusing to confess what John Kerry accused them of – of being war criminals. They were also decorated, many very highly, but they kept their medals.

Today they are teachers, farmers, businessmen, ministers and community leaders. And of course, grandfathers and fathers, with nothing to gain for themselves except the satisfaction that comes with telling the truth.

They have come forward to talk about the John Kerry they know, because to them, honesty and character still matter, especially in a time of war.

The swiftboat vets group, which recently changed its name to reflect an alliance with former POWs, says it has spent about $10 million of $17 million raised through a combination of big donors and small contributions, largely via the Internet.

Kerry spokesman David Wade told the Washington Post the Democratic candidate will not respond to the ads.

“We will keep an eye on what they are doing, but we feel this is a widely discredited group who is doing the dirty work of President Bush,” he said. ” … They will not set the conversation for this campaign.”

Wade said, however, that in Kerry’s defense, the campaign is running ads featuring military figures who praise Kerry and his Vietnam War service.

The new spots come as Democrats try to block television broadcast of a documentary, “Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal,” that provides more testimony by former POWs of the demoralizing impact of Kerry’s war-crimes accusations.

Related offer:

“Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry”

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