Republican who 'swift boated' John Kerry to run pro-Trump Super Pac

Chris LaCivita will run Super Pac seeking to hammer Joe Biden on law and order, as president seeks distraction

The Republican strategist who orchestrated the “swift boating” of John Kerry in 2004 is behind a new effort to aid Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

Chris LaCivita will run a Super Pac called Preserve America, beginning with a $30m ad campaign in key states, based on Trump’s law-and-order message. According to Politico, the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus are among Republican mega-donors funding the group.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a group that emerged in August 2004, as Kerry, a Vietnam veteran who became an anti-war campaigner and then a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, challenged George W Bush in the polls.

Swift boats were small river craft used by the US navy in Vietnam. Kerry, later secretary of state under Barack Obama, captained one.

Reporting for the Guardian, Julian Borger wrote: “John Kerry’s Vietnam war record has been trashed in a series of advertisements and a book by a group … who claim that Kerry inflicted injuries on himself and falsified his field reports to win his medals and ultimately get out of Vietnam after four months of combat.”

He added: “It is a potentially devastating multi-media assault on a presidential candidate. It also turns out to be largely untrue.”

The effort achieved sufficient levels of infamy – and was sufficiently successful – that in US politics at least its name became a verb.

As the New York Times put it in 2008, “swift boat” became “the synonym for the nastiest of campaign smears, a shadow that hangs over the presidential race as pundits wait to proclaim that the swift boating has begun and candidates declare that they will not be swift boated.”

LaCivita’s website describes him as “a former Marine who was wounded in combat … a fierce competitor with a proven track record of winning difficult campaigns at every level of the ballot”.

Politico quoted him and embedded ads accusing Biden of being weak on law and order, a key Republican tactic as the campaign hots up and a president who has watched a pandemic kill more than 180,000 and crater the economy seeks political distraction.

“The radical leftwing mob is trying to destroy our country from within and Joe Biden is too weak to stop them,” LaCivita said. “It’s a concern shared by a growing number of Americans and we intend to spread their message far and wide.”

Somewhat ironically, news of the swift boat veteran’s return came as Military Times released a poll showing “a slight but significant preference” for Biden among US servicemen.

Trump claims strong support in the US military. The new poll showed Biden up 43% to 37%, slightly below his lead in most national polling averages.

On Saturday, Biden addressed the National Guard Association. In a shot at Trump’s words and actions against protesters in cities including Kenosha, Wisconsin; Portland, Oregon; and Washington DC, he said he would “never put you in the middle of politics, or personal vendettas.

“I’ll never use the military as a prop or as a private militia to violate rights of fellow citizens. That’s not law and order. You don’t deserve that.”


Martin Pengelly

The GuardianTramp

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