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First lady criticized for swift boat remark

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John F. Kerry
Laura Bush
George W. Bush
Democratic candidates

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Kerry campaign Sunday criticized first lady Laura Bush for what the campaign called her "statement in support of the swift boat smear ads."

The campaign was referring to a new Time magazine interview in which Mrs. Bush is asked about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry's war record and his comments upon return from Vietnam.

In the interview she is asked, "Do you think these swift boat ads are unfair to John Kerry?"

"Not really," she replies. "There have been millions of terrible ads against my husband."

President Bush has praised Kerry's war record but has refused to condemn the attacks in the group's ads.

The Kerry campaign has alleged the Bush campaign illegally cooperated with the group in producing the ads -- a charge the campaign and the group vigorously deny.

Bush-Cheney legal adviser Benjamin Ginsberg and retired Air Force Col. Ken Cordier, an unpaid adviser to the campaign on veterans' issues, resigned the campaign this week over their involvement with the swift boat group.

"Mrs. Bush's statement in support of the swift boat smear ads is more sad evidence that these attacks have been coordinated from the top down at the White House," Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement.

Several statements by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth directly contradict the Navy record of events and in some cases their own previous statements. Other statements are more opinion than fact based.

"The president still stubbornly refuses to repudiate these lies. [Senator] John McCain knows from personal experience that these attacks are shameful and wrong. The president should answer McCain's call to renounce these lies once and for all."

McCain, R-Arizona, one of the Republican National Convention's main speakers and a Vietnam veteran who was a POW for five-and-a-half years, has called the ads "dishonest and dishonorable." McCain ran against Bush in 2000 during a bruising fight for the Republican presidential nomination. (Bush asks McCain to help block 527s)

Bush's policies have been the subject of attacks by other independent groups known as 527s.

Bush has called for an end to all political ads by the so-called 527 groups -- so named for the part of the law that addresses them -- and has challenged Kerry to join him in that call. Kerry condemned an ad attacking Bush's war record.

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