Firefighters ready to rap Bush

U.S. firefighters are ready to pour cold water on President Bush’s re-election parade. The reason is what Bush has done with his campaign commercials on television.

Harold Shaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, told The Hill, a Washington D.C. publication, that when the Bush campaign tries to use firefighters “for their photo op,” the IAFF “will loudly and aggressively” disclose the administration’s cuts in federal funds to first responders.

Schaitberger said Bush “has the right to focus on his performance and leadership during a catastrophic and disastrous day,” but he added that the use of firefighters’ images in campaign ads “by any candidate, for any reason, is unacceptable,” particularly for “partisan, purely political reasons.”

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) termed any criticism of the campaign ads “totally political” and “purely partisan.”

Firefighters have called on Bush to apologize for using their images in his ad campaign and to remove it from broadcast. Schaitberger said a delegation of firefighters took a copy of a resolution on that issue to Bush’s campaign headquarters. He said they were left waiting for 45 minutes and left without meeting any officials.

Lott said: “I love firefighters and policemen as individuals and as a group, [but] I don’t think much of their union.” He predicted that at the end, “firemen will vote for Bush and the bosses will endorse” Democrat Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who appears to be the Democratic nominee.

The IAFF was instrumental in helping Kerry get the nomination and could be important in the general election.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, (D-N.Y.), said the firefighters are “one of the most active and effective organizations in their endorsements. They really come out for whoever they endorse.”

Administration response to Sept. 11 is a key part of the Bush re-election campaign. The initial ads have caused a firestorm of anger and criticism over the use of images from that day, including one showing firefighters removing a body from Ground Zero.

The IAFF and some WTC victims’ families have been very vocal in condemning the ads.

David Wade, spokesman for the Kerry campaign, said: “It is one thing to put your arm around a firefighter,” but another to make good on a promise “after the bagpipes stop wailing.”

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