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New ads call Kerry 'rich liberal elitist'

Kerry says some international leaders support him

John Kerry talks to supporters at a campaign stop Monday in Hollywood, Florida.

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Stay with CNN-USA throughout the evening for updates on John Kerry's Southern campaign swing -- he has spent Monday in Florida -- and President Bush's fund-raising efforts in Texas.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With ads by the Bush-Cheney campaign and the liberal grass-roots group already battling it out on the airwaves, another set of ads was rolled out nationwide Monday, the first conservative attack ads against presumptive Democratic candidate John Kerry.

Paid for by the group Citizens United, the 30-second message calls Kerry "another rich liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he's a man of the people."

In the style of a popular MasterCard advertising campaign, the ad lists the Massachusetts senator's expenses -- including a "42-foot luxury yacht" and beachfront estates worth "over $30 million" -- before calling his alleged claim that he is one of the people "priceless."

Summer Stitz, spokeswoman for Citizens United, told CNN the ad is airing in "key battleground states" in all regions of the country. It aired Sunday during political talk shows in certain areas, and began airing in all markets Monday, she said.

Bush is very wealthy as well, and his success in 2000 was credited in part to his identification with the common American.

Asked repeatedly whether Bush is trying to identify with common Americans as much as Kerry is, Stitz replied only, "Kerry is making that claim." She also would not say whether Bush has more of a right to identify with common Americans.

The group would not say how much it spent on the ad campaign, but president David Bossie said tens of thousands of dollars were spent in Washington, and the nationwide total was in six figures, but closer to $100,000 than $1 million. spent about $3 million on its current advertising campaign attacking Bush.

The Citizens United ad will air through the rest of the week, and more ads may follow, depending on the group's fund-raising efforts, Stitz said.

The Republican National Committee wrote TV stations across the country last week telling them not to run ads, alleging that the group paid for them with money raised in violation of campaign finance reform laws. responded that the ads were funded legally, and that the RNC's letter was "a complete misrepresentation of the law" aimed at silencing the group. (Full story)

Stitz said she has no doubts about the legality of her group's ads.

Kerry in Florida Monday

Kerry told a group of fund-raisers Monday that some international leaders want him to win the general election in November and unseat Bush.

"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, 'You got to win this,' 'you got to beat this guy,' 'we need a new policy,' things like that," he told a group of more than 50 people during a morning meeting. "So there is enormous energy out there."

When told about Kerry's comment, Bush spokesman Terry Holt said, "Kerry's foreign friends may prefer him as U.S. president, but the election is in the hands of the American people."

Kerry also said he expects attacks on his character and on his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

"I am convinced that we have the ability to win this race. It's going to be hard-fought, they're going to do everything possible to tear down my character personally, Teresa. That's the way they operate."

He said that during the race for the Republican nomination in 2000, Bush backers tried to "besmirch" Sen. John McCain's character and challenge his six-year ordeal as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"I'm a fighter, as you know, and I'm ready for it. And I'm not going to let them change the subject. The subject is America, the oneness ... our kids, our future, all of the issues that are staring us in the face."

The fund-raising meeting included former supporters of Kerry's ex-rivals for the nomination, including Sens. John Edwards and Joe Lieberman and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Kerry said he has talked with Dean several times recently and expects to meet with him later this week in Washington.

He also said he and Edwards "became good friends" during the primary race -- looking to cast off some lingering questions as to whether the heated competition in the days before Edwards dropped out soured their rapport.

Taking a page out of Dean's grassroots fund-raising system, Kerry said he hopes 2 million Americans will give his campaign $100 each to help him approach Bush's unprecedented war chest.

Bush to raise $3 million on Monday

President Bush leaves from Waco, Texas, on Monday, for fund-raisers in Dallas and Houston.

At two campaign stops Monday in his home state of Texas, Bush will add another $3 million to his already unprecedented war chest, the Bush-Cheney campaign said.

"Today, President Bush will attend a Bush-Cheney '04 luncheon in Dallas, Texas. The event will be attended by 1,100 supporters and will raise $1,500,000 for the campaign," a campaign statement said.

"Tonight, President Bush is scheduled to attend a Bush-Cheney '04 reception in Houston, Texas. The event will raise $1,500,000 for the campaign and will be attended by 1,100 supporters."

As of January 31 -- the last date that figures were available -- Bush had $104 million in his campaign's treasury. He raised millions more throughout February, and recently launched a $10 million TV advertising campaign.

CNN's Robert Yoon contributed to this report.

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