Families who lost relatives in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks voiced outrage on Thursday at President Bush's first ads of his re-election campaign that use images of the devastated World Trade Center to portray him as the right leader for tumultuous times.
"Families are enraged," said Bill Doyle, 57, of New York, who is active in several Sept. 11 family groups. "What I think is distasteful is that the president is trying to use 9/11 as a springboard for his re-election."
"It's entirely wrong. He's had 3,500 deaths on his watch, including Iraq," said Doyle, whose 25-year-old son Joseph died at the trade center.
Ron Willett of Walnut Shade, Missouri, said he was disgusted when he saw the ads. Willett, who lost his 29-year-old son, John Charles, said he is now so upset, "I would vote for Saddam Hussein before I would vote for Bush."
"I think it is an atrocity," his wife, Lucy, added. "He should not be allowed to use those images at all."
With Republicans holding their political convention in New York in late August, victims said they hope Bush does not make it worse by speaking at the site now known as Ground Zero, which many view as sacred.
"If he does, there will be a protest and it could get ugly," said Doyle.
Several family members said their annoyance stemmed in part from Bush's refusal to testify publicly before the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"The Bush administration will not cooperate fully with the 9/11 commission and at the same time they are trying to invoke and own 9/11 and use it for his re-election," said Stephen Push from the Washington office of "Families September 11th." His wife died on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon that day.
The International Association of Fire Fighters, which has endorsed and campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, denounced the spots as "hypocrisy at its worst."
The 3,500 deaths on Bush's watch, including Iraq, neglect thousands of others: Iraqi civilians, Afghani civilians, and soldiers of other countries in the so-called "Coalition of the Willing" who were tricked into the Bush/Blair vortex of lies.