Republican Smear Ad Misrepresents Cleland

Ad uses Saddam, bin Laden to question Cleland’s record

Oct. 11, 2002 | Associated Press


WASHINGTON – Sen. Max Cleland is angrily defending himself against a rival’s television ad that shows pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and implies the Democratic incumbent is soft on homeland security.

The ad, sponsored by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss’ Senate campaign, doesn’t directly compare Cleland and the rogue leaders but alleges the senator isn’t telling the truth when he claims to support some of President Bush’s efforts in the war against terrorism. It began airing Friday in the Atlanta market.

The ad’s primary focus is Cleland’s position on legislation creating a homeland security department Bush is seeking. Although Cleland supports one version of that bill, he says he won’t support the president’s preference without an amendment guaranteeing labor rights for federal workers.

“To put my picture up there with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and insinuate I’m not fighting hard enough for national security, I just find that this is an incredible low in Georgia politics,” Cleland said.

The ad claims Cleland voted against Bush’s preferred department 11 times, most in procedural votes as the legislation moved through the committee process. In a statement from his campaign, Chambliss said he appreciates the war record of Cleland – who lost both legs and an arm in a Vietnam grenade blast – but urged him to follow the president’s lead on homeland security.

“Georgians deserve to know – all Americans deserve to know – why Max Cleland is more concerned with protecting federal bureaucracy, rules and regulations than creating a department that can respond effectively to future threats of terrorism,” Chambliss said.

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