Kerry Denounces MoveOn.Org Ad

This might seem like a politically brilliant move:

Senator John Kerry denounced an advertisement by the liberal group questioning President Bush’s Vietnam-era service in the Air National Guard yesterday, a move likely to raise pressure on President Bush to condemn a recent commercial accusing Mr. Kerry of lying about his war record.

The new MoveOn advertisement, running in three states, accuses Mr. Bush of using family connections to get into the Air National Guard to escape combat in Vietnam and revisits accusations that he did not adequately meet his service requirements – charges that he denies.

Mr. Kerry’s statement came hours after surrogates for his presidential campaign made similar accusations and was prompted by a plea from Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, a friend of Mr. Kerry and a fellow combat veteran in Vietnam.*snip*

In an interview with The Associated Press yesterday, Mr. McCain said Mr. Kerry should condemn the MoveOn spot because it’s “the same line of scurrilous attack” leveled against Mr. Kerry by the Swift boat veterans.

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Kerry’s campaign released his statement: “I agree with Senator McCain that the ad is inappropriate. This should be a campaign of issues, not insults.”

… but if you dig deep into the article you’ll find this is nothing more than lip service by Senator Kerry (emphasis added in italics):

The Bush campaign and the group say they have had no contact and are not working in coordination, which would be a violation of campaign finance rules.

“The campaign has not questioned and will not question John Kerry’s service in Vietnam,” said Steve Schmidt, a campaign spokesman. “The president made clear on national television that he honors John Kerry’s service in Vietnam.”

Mr. Schmidt painted Mr. Kerry’s repudiation of the spots as disingenuous, given that at a campaign-sponsored news conference earlier in the day Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who competed against Mr. Kerry in the Democratic primaries earlier this year, and Adm. Stansfield Turner, the director of central intelligence for President Jimmy Carter, echoed MoveOn’s accusations that Mr. Bush used family connections to avoid combat.

“Kerry’s condemnation reeks of hypocrisy given the fact that his campaign surrogates are on the attack echoing the same baseless charges,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Nice try, Senator.