Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad

By KATE ZERNIKE and JIM RUTENBERG

Published: August 20, 2004

The New York Times

After weeks of taking fire over veterans’ accusations that he had lied about his Vietnam service record to win medals and build a political career, Senator John Kerry shot back yesterday, calling those statements categorically false and branding the people behind them tools of the Bush campaign.

His decision to take on the group directly was a measure of how the group that calls itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has catapulted itself to the forefront of the presidential campaign. It has advanced its cause in a book, in a television advertisement and on cable news and talk radio shows, all in an attempt to discredit Mr. Kerry’s war record, a pillar of his campaign.

How the group came into existence is a story of how veterans with longstanding anger about Mr. Kerry’s antiwar statements in the early 1970’s allied themselves with Texas Republicans.

Mr. Kerry called them “a front for the Bush campaign” – a charge the campaign denied.

A series of interviews and a review of documents show a web of connections to the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and President Bush’s chief political aide, Karl Rove.

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