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Bush Calls for End to Campaign Attack Advertisements - 2004-08-23

John Kerry's military record in the Vietnam War remains a hot topic in the U.S. presidential election campaign. An independent group is running advertisements saying Senator Kerry lied about his service. President Bush says he wants all attack ads to stop.

Under U.S. campaign laws, independent groups can raise money and run commercials attacking candidates as long as they do not coordinate with political parties or campaigns.

One of these groups, called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, maintains John Kerry lied about his service in the Vietnam War and did not deserve the five medals he received.

The Democratic presidential nominee has denounced the ads, and has indicated there might be a tie to the Bush campaign.

The campaign has denied any link, but never called specifically for the ads to be pulled. After days of pressure from Democrats and Republican Senator John McCain, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, the president said all ads funded by outside groups should go.

"I spoke out against them early," he said. "I tried to get others to speak out against them as well. I think they are bad for the system."

The president spoke during a brief session with reporters at his Texas ranch. He was asked if he shares the criticism of John Kerry's war record.

"I think Senator Kerry served admirably and he ought to be proud of his record," Mr. Bush said.

The Kerry campaign said the president's words did not go far enough. Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards said Mr. Bush must do more.

"The American people deserve to hear directly from the president of the United States that these ads should come off the air," Mr. Edwards said. "Not rhetoric, not that Senator Kerry's service was noble in Vietnam, not that he honors his service. But that these ads that are directly connected to his friends and one of campaign advisers, funded by his friends and other who are associated with President Bush and his family, which we now know are false and not true, that those ads should come off the air."

The Kerry campaign has mobilized a full assault on the controversial ads. Vietnam veterans who served under John Kerry are holding news conferences and speaking to reporters, and a new campaign commercial is airing aimed at countering the attacks on the candidate's military service.