COLUMBUS - U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine's campaign doctored an image in a televised attack ad to make the World Trade Center appear to be burning, the senator admitted yesterday.
Mr. DeWine, a Cedarville Republican, will not dismiss the advertising firm that added billowing smoke to the picture of New York's twin towers that was taken before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, his spokesman said. The campaign plans to replace the image effective today.
Democrats had already criticized the ad, which paired the burning towers with photos of 9/11 hijackers in a national-security-themed attack on U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D., Avon), as "exploiting" tragedy for political gain. Their cries grew yesterday, after U.S. News & World Report discovered the fake smoke and the DeWine campaign called other reporters to admit it.
The DeWine spokesman, Brian Seitchik, called the image a "graphical representation" and said the senator believed it to be real when he previewed and approved the ad. Brown spokesman Joanna Kuebler called it a "shameful" action that "needs to be examined very carefully."
"He used distorted images like he's distorted Sherrod's record," Ms. Kuebler said.
Mr. Seitchik said the campaign stood by the ad's contention that several of Mr. Brown's House votes, including opposition to some intelligence funding increases and to the Patriot Act, weaken his security credentials. He also stood by the decision to show the burning towers, authenticity issues aside.
"Since we decided to use the image," Mr. Seitchik said, "we wanted to have an actual picture."
Mr. Seitchik said Mr. DeWine would continue to use the agency behind the ad: Stevens Reed Curcio and Potholm of Washington, whose previous clients include Gov. Bob Taft, Sen. George Voinovich, and Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth, which ran a televised attack campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.
"They're a nationally established media firm," Mr. Seitchik said, "and they're going to continue to be the media consultant for the campaign."
A woman who answered the phone at the agency yesterday evening said no one who worked on the DeWine ad was in the office and available to comment.
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