Selling the War, Through Advertising

A shadow White House communications shop tries to help president sell his war.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:07 AM

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 22, 2007 — -- A sort of shadow White House communications shop has emerged to help the beleaguered president sell his unpopular war to the American people.

Freedom's Watch was formed by former White House and Bush administration officials and funded by Republican big-money donors. Today it began airing $15 million worth of ads -- featuring veterans and their families -- aimed at influencing wavering members of Congress.

(You can see the ads HERE)

"I know what I lost," says one of those in a TV ad, veteran John Kriesel, who lost both legs in a blast near Fallujah last December. "I also know if we pull out now, everything I've given and sacrificed will mean nothing."

In a separate ad, veteran Andrew Robinson, who lost the use of both of his legs after being wounded by an IED in June 2006, says, "I would go back to Iraq if I could, it's that important because if Iraq isn't stable it will be a breeding ground for terrorists."

The ads also link the war with Sept. 11, despite no reliable evidence Iraq played any role in those attacks.

In the ad, Kriesel says, "They attacked us, and they will again. They won't stop in Iraq."

Laura Youngblood is featured in another ad -- she lost her uncle Henry, a New York City fireman, on Sept. 11, and her husband, Travis, in Iraq.

"Congress did the right thing voting to defeat terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan," she says in an ad. "Switching their votes now, for political reasons, it will mean more attacks in America."

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, one of the group's board of directors, said the group was formed to provide a counter-argument to the successful anti-war voices.

"There's been a three-year silence from conservatives and others who believe in peace through strength," Fleischer told ABC News. "The cavalry is coming, we're going to help to get that message out," he said.

The new pro-surge ads will join a barrage of other TV ads about Iraq, many against the war, all aimed at specific members of Congress who are still deciding whether to continue supporting the president.