Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 continues to provoke controversy, says he will fight any attempt to prevent his film from being advertised in the period before U.S. political party conventions and the presidential election in November.
This was not Michael Moore's first visit to Capitol Hill.
In his movie, which premiered in Washington, D.C. this week before nationwide release, he is shown standing near the Capitol, asking one member of Congress if he would send his children to fight in Iraq.
As with his film, which he openly declares is aimed at encouraging Americans to vote President George Bush out of office in November, his purpose in meeting members of Congress was also political.
With the Capitol building as a backdrop, he underscored the main theme he has stressed as he travels the country to explain, and promote, his movie.
"You're fighting for the majority, the majority that never elected this man to office and the majority that doesn't like to go to war. The majority that likes young men to grow into old men. The majority that wants the oil to stay under the ground in Alaska. The majority that doesn't like a quarter [of a] billion guns in our homes. That's the majority of the country. We actually live in a very liberal country, we just don't have the liberal leadership," he said.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC), an independent bipartisan body responsible for enforcing U.S. election laws, is considering the question of whether political documentary film-makers should be allowed to have radio or television ads within 30 days of a political primary or within 60 days of a general election.
A conservative group, Citizens United, which is closely aligned with Republicans, has filed a complaint with the FEC against Mr. Moore and his distributors, saying his film constitutes electioneering communication.
This could affect Fahrenheit 9/11 and other documentaries critical of the Bush administration after July 30, one month before the Republican Party convention, which the FEC considers on the same level as a political primary.
Appearing with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Mr. Moore said he has been targeted by the FEC and conservative groups because of the views expressed in his film.
"It's a violation of my first amendment rights that I cannot advertise my movie," he stated. "It's a movie. I have not publicly endorsed John Kerry, I am a [political] independent, I am not a member of the Democratic party, so for them to try and remove my ads from the television because I want people to come and see my movie, it's a blatant attempt on the part of a right-wing Republican sponsored group to stop people from seeing my movie."
Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, a sharp critic of President Bush and opponent of the war in Iraq, says the debate over the Moore film involves questions of free speech in a democracy.
"Now, the Federal Election Commission is saying, you can do it but don't tell anybody what you're doing because you are violating the law," he said. "And then we find some Republican organizations are saying that this [film] is political. Well, that is what this [U.S.] Constitution is all about."
Many Republican lawmakers have derided Fahrenheit 9/11 calling it manipulative and a distortion of events leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, as well as the war in Iraq.