President George Bush was accused of delivering a “slap in the face” to the victims of the September 11 attacks after using images of the massacres in re-election adverts which were launched today.
A £5.5 million advertising campaign, which began in 17 key election states, marked the opening round of Mr Bush’s counter-attack against his Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry.
But some grieving relatives of those killed on September 11 2001 accused the president of exploiting the tragedy for his own political ends.
One of the 30 second commercials includes a brief clip of a body, wrapped in the American flag, being lifted from the wreckage of New York’s World Trade Centre.
“It’s a slap in the face of the murders of 3,000 people. It is unconscionable,” said Monica Gabrielle, whose husband died in the attacks on the twin towers.
Tom Roger, whose daughter was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, said: “I would be less offended if he showed a picture of himself in front of the Statue of Liberty.
“But to show the horror of 9/11 in the background, that’s just some advertising agency’s attempt to grab people by the throat,” he told the New York Daily News.
Firefighter Tommy Fee called the adverts “sick”.
“The image of firefighters at Ground Zero should not be used for this stuff, for politics,” he said.
The intended message of the adverts is “steady leadership in times of change”.
To stirring music, Mr Bush tells viewers: “I know exactly what we need to do to make the world more free and peaceful.”