Kerry Responds to Smear — And It’s Good!

Kerry finally responded directly to Bush’s “Swift Boat Veterans” smear. And he did well. I hope this is just the start of a coordinated response that takes it straight back to Bush, making Republican smears an issue in this campaign.

There is a new ad that addresses the smear itself. To see it, go to the Kerry website and watch “Rassmann.” The ad is good, addresses one of the main points by saying “Today he still has shrapnel in his leg from his wounds in Vietnam.” This is a good approach. The ad itself doesn’t get bogged down in detail, it just puts the lie to the heart of the smear that his wounds were not real. If he still has shrapnel in his leg, that makes Bush a liar for smearing his Purple Hearts. Short, simple, forest (big picture) not trees (details). The Kerry website is stressing the response, as well as a strong press release that details the lies, AND the money behind the smear. Definitely worth a read! (This is the right place for details, where those who care can find them.)

Today, addressing firefighters in Boston, Kerry said,

“…Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth — and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them. They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know — he wants them to do his dirty work.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it?s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done–and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”

I?m not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America–then, now, or ever. And I’m not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

And let me make this commitment today: their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security — the issues that really matter to the American people.”

They’re doing everything right today. The ad is going to get this in front of the people that matter — the people the smear campaign was targeted to — people like this veteran, from a San Jose News story this morning,

“The pro-Kerry talk elicits guffaws from the other end of the bar.

“I think a lot of Kerry’s Vietnam service was fabricated to build him up,” said Frank Martinez, 57, who did two tours of duty there and is still offended the Massachusetts Democrat was a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. “Kerry is just like Jane Fonda. I think Bush is qualified to lead the nation again.”

Two weeks ago I wrote,

“And now a big Kerry smear arrives. What response has Kerry prepared? To me, this is the question of the election. What does Kerry have ready in response? Did I say that we all knew it was coming. This is what Bush Sr. did to Dukakis. This is what Bush did to Gore. The Big Smear. This is what Republicans do.

Since Bush Sr. effectively used these tactics on Dukakis the Democrats must have been preparing a response. Right? Or at least since they did it to Gore. Right? They must have had teams of psychologists, linguists, advertising pros, etc. doing the necessary research on how to most effectively respond to this kind of smear. Right?

To me, this goes beyond the campaign. This goes beyond protecting their own political careers. This goes to protecting us. What is the criticism of Bush for 9/11? That all the signs were there that we were going to be attacked, and they ignored it.

Does Kerry have a devastating response ready for The Big Smear? To me this is the same question as: Is Kerry ready to be president?”

Well, it looks like the Kerry campaign is starting to respond effectively. The ad talks to the people who are questioning Kerry. The campaign is taking it straight to the source — BUSH. It is STRONG, and done well. Go see the ad and read the release. You’ll feel better, you’ll like Kerry a lot more, and you’ll feel like he will do the job. You’ll feel like this guy will protect us from the Republicans as well as foreign threats — something I think a lot of us have worried about (remember things like Lieberman in 2000 caving, saying it was OK to count illegal absentee ballots?)

I hope they keep this up, and make the Republican tactic of smearing the issue in the campaign. Take it back to Bush, talk about the history of Republicans smearing opponents, and make THAT a big issue in this campaign. That makes it hard for them to try another smear, and gets them on the defensive about this on an issue they really can’t defend. It’s what they DO! So make them pay for it.

Update – Just saw it on CNN. They showed part of Kerry’s speech, where he was laying it straight on Bush! It was GOOD, it was STRONG!

Reuters headline at My Yahoo: Bush Uses Surrogates for ‘Dirty Work,’ Kerry Says

“Kerry said a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has attacked the Massachusetts senator’s war record via television advertisements, was funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor in Texas, Bush’s home state.

“They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know: he wants them to do his dirty work,” Kerry told a convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters, a politically active union which backs Kerry.”

AP headline at My Yahoo: Kerry: Bush Lets Groups Do ‘Dirty Work’

“Sen. John Kerry accused President Bush on Thursday of relying on front groups to challenge his record of valor in Vietnam, asserting, “He wants them to do his dirty work.”

Fighting back, Kerry said if Bush wants to “have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: ‘Bring it on.'”

Oh, I’m happy today!