The Left-wing antiwar group MoveOn, a key Democratic support, has found a new spokesman in Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.
Last week, the Nebraska senator made headlines when he criticized the administration's Iraq policy saying, "The White House is completely disconnected from reality... It's like they're just making it up as they go along." Hagel also warned that Iraq was on the verge of becoming another Vietnam.
While Hagel's comments faded from media attention, MoveOn went into action. The same day as this week's speech by President Bush on Iraq, the MoveOn PAC began a new advertising campaign calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces. They took Hagel's words and placed them alongside claims that President Bush, "is trying to change the subject from Iraq to terrorism and September 11 -- implying that Iraq attacked us in 2001."
On Wednesday, MoveOn sent out a fundraising letter to supporters asking for $500,000 dollars to "expand the advertising into the hometowns of Republican members of Congress who will have tough elections in 2006. That will help send a signal that Congress will pay a price at the ballot box because of the Iraq failures." The letter explains that 84 percent of MoveOn's 3.3 million registered members support a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
The ad itself is titled "Hagel" and reads in part: "It's time to come home. We went in the wrong way, let's come home the right way."
Hagel's office was not pleased when they received word of the new ad. Hagel claims MoveOn used his words out of context and asked for the ad to be taken down immediately. Hagel's official statement on the ad reads in part:
This ad is dishonest. I have never supported immediate removal of American troops from Iraq. I have said that to withdraw from Iraq now would have catastrophic consequences that would ripple across a generation of Americans, Iraqis, and the entire Middle East. I have said I believe we can succeed in Iraq. MoveOn neglects to mention that in their ad.
I have differences with the Administration over the execution of our war policy …War is deadly serious and the debate over our policy should match the seriousness of the situation. Americans are entitled to an honest public debate about our policy in Iraq. Cheap, misleading 30-second partisan political attack ads debase our debate.