Since capturing the GOP's nomination, John McCain has stepped up his effort to put more distance between himself and President Bush.
Rather than simply refer to differences on troop levels with President Bush's former defense secretary as he did in a New Hampshire primary ad, McCain is now more regularly pointing to his differences with the president himself.
"I was frustrated for nearly four years as I fought against the Rumsfeld strategy, and the president's strategy in Iraq," McCain told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on April 20.
McCain's critics on the left are concerned that the Arizona senator's recitation of tactical differences with Bush is obscuring what the two Republicans share in common: a conviction in the wisdom of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and a belief that a long-term commitment of U.S. troops will stabilize the war-torn country.
Timed with the five-year anniversary of President Bush's "mission accomplished" moment, the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org is launching a television ad which paints a vote for McCain as a vote for a third Bush term.
MoveOn's ad, which has $160,000 behind it, will air starting Thursday on national cable as well as on broadcast networks in Iowa and New Mexico.
View the ad here.
"We are intentionally going up in the places where McCain's ads are unopposed, and that's the key," a MoveOn spokesman told ABC News. "While Obama and Hillary beat each other up, we don't want to give him a free-ride because the media certainly is."
The Republican National Committee responded to the ad by dubbing Obama, who has been endorsed by MoveOn, as "MoveOn's Commander-in-Chief."
The RNC also charged that MoveOn's ad takes McCain's comments out of context.
"First, they quote John McCain as saying the 'end is very much in sight,' but he was clearly talking about dismantling Saddam Hussein's regime," said RNC spokesman Alex Conant in a missive to reporters. "Second, they quote John McCain on 100 years, when he was clearly referring to a peaceful support role . . ."
MoveOn counterpunched by saying that the failure of the surge to produce political reconciliation shows that U.S. troops in Iraq cannot be the stabilizing force that McCain envisions.
"Military experts who have looked at this believe that our mere presence is continuing to exacerbate tensions on the ground," MoveOn communications director Ilyse Hogue told ABC News. "There is sort of a circular logic to believing that we can keep our troops there for decades or even one hundred years when our mere presence is creating harm."
In addition to launching its anti-McCain ad, MoveOn's executive director spent Wednesday directing attention to an interview that McCain recently gave to a conservative talk radio host.
"Let me say that no one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have," McCain told Mike Gallagher on April 2.
Later in the interview, McCain reiterated that he has "agreed with the president on many issues," though he said "there are some issues" they have not agreed on.
As part of their efforts to highlight the five-year anniversary, Iraq war critics are planning to unfurl a 50 foot-long "Mission Accomplished?" banner in front of the White House at 10:30 am ET on Thursday.
In the 8:00 am ET hour, John McCain is interviewed on FNC's "Fox and Friends," CNN's "American Morning,", and MSNBC's "Morning Joe".
Michelle Obama appears in a taped interview on NBC's "Today".
DNC Chairman Howard Dean appears on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
"I truly believe that that's going to take an individual with testicular fortitude."
--Paul Gibson, president of Steelworkers Local 6787, heralding Hillary Clinton's ability to reform U.S. trade law while introducing the former first lady in Portage, Ind.
On the campaign front. . .
-- Attends events in Indiana
-- Attends event in Jeffersonville, IN
-- 4:15 pm ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Jeffersonville, IN
-- 8:00 pm ET: Attends rally with voters, Terre Haute, IN
-- Campaigns in West Virginia
-- Campaigns in Indiana
As for the Republicans. . .
-- 10:10 am ET: Attends health care town hall meeting with voters, Cleveland, OH
-- 11:15 am ET: Holds media availability, Cleveland, OH
-- 3:00 pm ET: Attends health care town hall meeting with voters, Des Moines, IA
At the White House and Beyond. . .
-- 10:05 am ET: Delivers remarks on the National Day of Prayer, Washington, DC
-- 2:50 pm ET: Delivers remarks at celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Washington, DC
-- 8:30 am ET: Releases personal income and spending statistics for March
-- 10:00 am ET: Releases construction spending statistics for March
POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM
ABC News' David Wright: Obama: Wright Is Wrong, Remarks 'Offend' Me LINK
ABC News' Matthew Dowd: Wright Way or the Right Way: What Obama Needs to Do Now LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Hoosier Responsible? LINK
ABC News' Rick Klein: Who's in the Republican Veepstakes? LINK
ABC News' Avni Patel: Suspicious Phone Messages Target Black Voters in North Carolina LINK
ABC News' Marcus Baram: Will Obama's Move Win Over Whites, Anger Blacks? LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Democratic Congressional Candidate: Obama? Obama Who? LINK
ABC News' Eloise Harper and Sarah Amos: Clinton Commutes for Votes, Pumps Gas Tax Debate LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Wright Confidante: He Didn't Intend to Hurt Obama LINK
ABC News' Tom Shine: What Does Cheney Have Against the North Atlantic Right Whale? LINK
ABC News' Eloise Harper: Hillary Clinton: Wright Remarks 'Offensive and Outrageous' LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: "The Shoe Is on the Other Footage" LINK
ABC News' Eloise Harper: Does Clinton Have 'Testicular Fortitude'? LINK
ABC News' Jake Tapper: Hillary Clinton's Clinton Administration Amnesia, Part Two LINK
ABC News' Sunlen Miller: Michelle Obama Declines Opportunity to Discuss Wright LINK
POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM
Liberal Group: McCain Worse Than Bush
MoveOn.org launches a month-long million dollar ad campaign against Sen. McCain. LINK
Political Watchdog Decries N.C. Calls
Rights group demands probe into phone calls they claim are confusing voters. LINK
The Gas Squeeze
Dan Harris discusses whether lifting the gas tax could provide economic relief. LINK
Obama vs. Clinton: The Boxing Match
Web site game lets you control the punches of the presidential candidates. LINK
Wright Is Wrong
Sen. Barack Obama denounces the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. LINK
The People's Take
A look at what some voters thought of Obama's denouncement of Wright. LINK
The Bottom Line on Wright
George Stephanopoulos discusses Obama's denouncement of his pastor. LINK
George: 'Wright Posed Mortal Threat'
Stephanopoulos says Obama was "royally t-ed off" by his pastor's latest remarks. LINK