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DOCTORED PICTURE

Bush campaign to recast TV ad

YARDLEY, Pa. -- The Bush campaign yesterday admitted doctoring a photograph in a campaign advertisement, and vowed to recall the ad from television stations so it can be re-cut.

In a campaign advertisement released Wednesday, the images of several soldiers are repeated several times in an attempt to fill out what would have been gaps in a crowd President Bush is shown addressing. After alert bloggers discovered the repetitions yesterday, the Kerry campaign demanded that the ad be taken off the air.

"If they won't tell the truth in an ad, they won't tell the truth about anything else," said Joe Lockhart, a senior Kerry campaign adviser. "The Bush campaign has no choice but to take this ad down immediately and issue an apology for its latest attempt to mislead the American people. Unless George Bush has changed its position on human cloning, it's got to pull this fundamentally dishonest ad."

Bush's top ad maker, Mark McKinnon, told the Associated Press that the photograph was altered by an editor who chose to fill in an area of the picture that was originally filled by part of Bush's body and a podium in the foreground. He noted that the actual crowd Bush spoke to was even larger than the photo indicated, but added that such editing should not have occurred.

"There was no need to do that," said McKinnon, head of Bush's advertising team. "Everyone technically works for me so I accept the responsibility."

The ad, an unusually long 60 seconds, is running on cable outlets nationwide. It features an extended clip of President Bush talking about images he recalls from the fight against terrorism, and concludes with him uttering a favorite line: "I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes."

RICK KLEIN

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