Glenn: Let's get to issues
Bush said Kerry was telling the truth about his war record.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Retired U.S. Sen. John Glenn said Friday that President Bush should take time in his Ohio visit today to condemn ads attacking Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's military record in the Vietnam War.
Political strategists say the Kerry campaign needs to fight back against the ads questioning his rescue of a crew mate and the wounds that won him three purple hearts, but runs the risk of tiring voters eager to hear about jobs and education.
The ads by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran for just one week in three states but have generated intense media publicity, and polls this week showed Kerry slipping slightly.
The president is campaigning today in western Ohio farm territory, one of two scheduled appearances in the battleground state leading up to next week's Republican convention.
Bush has said Kerry spoke truthfully about his war record and criticized independent groups that produce such attacks, but he did not condemn the ads' allegations.
"He has another chance," said Glenn, a Marine fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War. "I would call on him to do the right thing while he's here. As a brother in arms with John Kerry, I feel these ads attack me, too."
What witness said
Ohioan Pat Runyon, who introduced Glenn, told about 200 supporters at a union hall that he went on a nighttime raid with Kerry on a three-man boat in Vietnam, and that Kerry returned fire even after getting shot.
Glenn said his goal is to direct the debate back to foreign relations, education and the mounting national debt.
"I speak out today because I just want to get this behind us," he said.
Democrats needed the revered former astronaut, who served in the Senate from 1974 to 1998, to counter criticisms by Republican former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, also a war hero, said Bruce Newman, a political marketing expert at DePaul University. Dole last weekend questioned the severity of the wounds that resulted in Kerry's three purple hearts.
"You cannot turn your cheek in this day and age," Newman said. "From Kerry's point of view, this is not necessarily a message they want to die that quickly. He made his time in Vietnam a cornerstone of his basis for leadership."
Rick Farmer, associate professor at the University of Akron's Bliss Center for Applied Politics, said the campaign also wants to discredit the Swift Boat group before wide release of its second ad criticizing Kerry's congressional testimony after he returned from the war.
Members of United Auto Workers Local 969, which hosted Glenn's appearance, said they were happy he was defending Kerry but want to hear more from the candidates about prescription drugs and the threat that their jobs making door latches for cars will be moved to Mexico.
"It's getting drawn out way too long," said Bob Michaelis, a Vietnam veteran from nearby Grove City.