VFW’s Response to Previous Ad: “Don't Use Our Dead To Score Political Points”
Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON
A new attack ad from the National Rifle Association targeting Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy features images of military graves at Alexandria National Cemetery.
In a September 27 ad, the NRA attempts to link Murphy to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over supposed malfeasance related to the 2012 terror attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. (Without evidence, the ad claims Clinton “lied” about the attacks.) Murphy is facing Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the race.
The ad features several shots of Alexandria National Cemetery that the NRA filmed for a previous attack ad. It is a violation of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs policy to film political ads at national cemeteries.
From the ad:
The footage from the ad comes from a June ad in which the NRA attacked Clinton over Benghazi in support of Republican nominee Donald Trump, whom the gun group has endorsed.
Media Matters identified the cemetery in that ad as Alexandria National Cemetery in Virginia. The cemetery, which is primarily made up of Civil War-era graves, is located near Old Town, Alexandria, which is home to the headquarters for NRA News and an office of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm.
At the time, veterans groups slammed the NRA for using a military cemetery in an ad. A national spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars told Media Matters, “Don’t use our dead to score political points. We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”
Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, responded with a statement that said, "This ad should be taken down immediately. It is insensitive to those buried at the cemetery -- most, if not all, of whom died before Benghazi, and many of whom may not have been NRA supporters. Further, it violates Veterans Affairs policy. It should be taken down."
And yet the NRA continues to use the footage in its attack ads. In contrast, several organizations other than the NRA that had aired images and footage from national cemeteries in political ads either altered or removed them. In 1999, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign aired an ad featuring unauthorized footage filmed at Arlington National Cemetery, and the campaign admitted fault and recut the ad to remove the footage. More recently, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) pulled a 2014 ad that was filmed at a North Dakota veterans cemetery.