Swift Boat Watch: Let Freedom Ring

See all Swift Boat Watch entries here .

Who They Are: Let Freedom Ring

Purpose: To promote a conservative agenda and to counter liberal messaging. In this election, they support John McCain.

President: Colin A. Hanna

Funding: NPR reports that John Templeton, a physician and wealthy Republican donor , is a contributor.

Cost of the Ad: $5 million for the whole campaign.

Where It Ran: Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., starting Oct. 24.

Claims: Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney says that candidates who are determined not to use force or invest in a strong military convey “weakness” that “invites aggression.” (He doesn’t explicitly name Obama.) The ad then quotes Joe Biden’s statement that “it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama.”


Accuracy: Frank Gaffney writes editorials theorizing that Islamist groups are using Obama to take over the United States. The ad implies that Obama is determined not to use military force or to maintain a strong military. Both of these claims are false . In fact, both Obama and McCain want to expand the armed forces. In a 2007 speech, Obama said , “I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America. … I will ensure that our military becomes more stealth, agile, and lethal in its ability to capture or kill terrorists.” The Biden statement, made at a rally in Seattle , is accurate.

Background: The group’s Never Find Out campaign features individuals addressing Obama’s tax plan, energy plan, and use of the present vote in the Illinois Senate. Other ads have attacked Obama on his comments about small-town Pennsylvanians , his position on the Employee Free Choice Act , and offshore drilling . Ronald Reagan nominated Gaffney for assistant secretary of defense; Gaffney served for seven months until the Supreme Court blocked the nomination.


Swift Boat Rating:

Biden did warn Americans that an international crisis would test Obama. But the ad’s implications that Obama would not use force and would weaken the military are inaccurate. The ad gets an extra boat for featuring Gaffney, who is not the most credible spokesperson.