Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Saturday night urged President Bush to "stand up and stop" what he called personal attacks on him over his combat record in Vietnam. At a fundraiser, attended by about 750 people, Kerry said the attacks by a group of Vietnam veterans and former Swift Boat commanders have intensified "because in the last months they have seen me climbing in America's understanding that I know how to fight a smarter and more effective war" against terrorists. "That's why they're attacking my credibility. That's why they've personally gone after me. The president needs to stand up and stop that. The president needs to have the courage to talk about it." Earlier on Saturday, Kerry's campaign released a video comparing the controversy over Kerry's Vietnam service to attacks on John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries. The video, sent via e-mail to supporters, says, "George Bush is up to his old tricks" and shows then-Texas Gov. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain at a debate in February 2000. McCain, sitting next to Bush, says that when "fringe veterans groups" attacked him at a Bush campaign function, Bush stood by and didn't say a word. McCain says a group of senators wrote Bush a letter that said: "Apologize. You should be ashamed." McCain, also a Vietnam veteran, says Bush "really went over the line." "I don't know how you can understand this, George, but that really hurts," McCain says. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group funded in part by a top GOP donor in Texas, has been running ads featuring veterans who served in Vietnam at the same time as Kerry and question his wartime record. Those critics are being challenged by a Chicago Tribune editor who was on the Feb. 28, 1969, mission for which Kerry received the Silver Star. William Rood, 61, said he decided to break his silence about the mission because recent reports of Kerry's actions in that battle are incorrect and darken the reputations of veterans who served with Kerry, informs ABCNEWS. According to NYTimes, a Vietnam veteran who served with Senator John Kerry in a Swift boat group broke a 35-year silence this weekend to back Mr. Kerry's version of events from one of their missions together and to chastise veterans critical of the senator as having "splashed doubt on all of us." The veteran, William B. Rood, is now an editor at The Chicago Tribune, which ran on its Web site yesterday and in Sunday's paper a first-person article in which he recounted the mission. His account added to a growing debate over the most serious claims from the group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. And it ensured that questions swirling around the veracity of its accusations, and the Kerry campaign's accusations that it was a front for Mr. Bush, would dominate the campaign for yet another day. Mr. Rood stepped forward after Mr. Kerry called him and another veteran on Mr. Rood's boat as members of the Swift boat group blanketed cable television talk radio shows to repeat their claim, also made in a book, that Mr. Kerry fabricated his military accomplishments to win medals. Mr. Kerry's phone calls were part of his campaign's first concerted push to address the group's claims, which first surfaced weeks ago. That push also included the release of a new Internet advertisement on Saturday highlighting accusations made Senator John McCain by military supporters of Mr. Bush in 2000 and a public call by Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards, for Mr. Bush tell the group - who garnered much of its initial financing from men who have supported Mr. Bush and his father's political endeavors - to cease running advertisements against Mr. Kerry. The Swift boat group has been ready to defend itself, quickly providing a statement Saturday that Mr. Rood's article was politically motivated. The group continues to raise money and on Friday introduced an advertisement in which former prisoners of war recount the pain Mr. Kerry's 1971 antiwar comments caused them when they were being held by the Viet Cong. Mr. Bush's campaign confirmed an accusation by the Kerry campaign Saturday that one of the veterans who appears in the group's latest television advertisement - describing the pain he felt as a prisoner of war over Mr. Kerry's antiwar statements in the early 1970's - was a member the campaign veteran's advisory committee. The campaign said in a statement that it did not know that the man, Kenneth Cordier, was going to appear in the advertisement and because of that he was no longer a volunteer. The Bush campaign denies involvement with the group and yesterday released a statement to the Federal Election Commission saying the Kerry campaign's accusations of coordination were untrue. The Bush camp has declined to tell the group to stop running advertisements, but aides said Mr. Kerry should join Mr. Bush in calling for all outside groups to stop advertising. The Observer has published, that John Kerry's tour of duty in Vietnam has defined his bid for the White House. He is the warrior candidate who heroically led men into battle but who came home to almost as bravely question the very war for which his comrades gave so much blood. But now Kerry's time in Vietnam, during which he was wounded three times, has become the backdrop of the most bitter row of the electioneering during one of America's dirtiest presidential campaigns. His war record is under fire like never before and, instead of defining his campaign, his time as captain of a Swift Boat is now threatening to derail his bid for the presidency. How this turnaround has come about is a tale as murky and muddied as the brown waters of the Mekong on which Kerry used to guide his craft. It is a tale of low politics, indirect funding and negative campaigning with a 'nod and a wink'. A political row that has erupted across the election and is already headed for the courts. But, perhaps more than that, it is also a stark portrayal of how the terrible conflict in Vietnam still divides America 29 years after the war ended. Kerry's tour of duty in Vietnam lasted a little over five months. During that time he captained two Swift Boats, which plied the waters of the Mekong Delta. It was dangerous work and the firefights were common. After being wounded three times, Kerry was discharged early. He left as a changed man. Gone was the bright, highly-educated youth of his college days. In its place was the serious man who immediately joined the anti-war movement and flung him self into politics.
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