WASHINGTON (AP) â€” A Republican congressman targeted by ads from a term limits group after reneging on his pledge to leave office after three terms is lashing back with a brutal attack ad of his own.
Washington Rep. George Nethercutt's radio ad says U.S. Term Limits Executive Director Paul Jacob ``is a convicted felon who served a long prison sentence. ... So when you see the next U.S. Term Limits ad, recognize it for what it is â€” lies from convicted felons.''
Jacob served 5 1/2 months in prison in 1980 after refusing to register for the draft. President Carter reinstated the draft for 18- to 25-year-olds after Soviet troops entered Afghanistan.
The draft refusal, Jacob said, was ``a matter of principle'' because he doesn't believe in forced military service. He said Nethercutt's ad is ``a fairly mean-spirited, cheap-shot attack that only shows he's desperate to change the subject as to why he won't take a stand on principle.''
Nethercutt's promise to serve no more than three terms helped propel him to an upset victory over then-House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994 and made him a hero of the term limits movement.
But when he announced last year that he would seek a fourth term and said it had been a mistake for him to agree to the limit, U.S. Term Limits pounced.
The group began running radio, TV and newspaper ads against the Republican, criticizing him for having too few campaign donors, taking trips paid by outside groups and voting to raise his pay.
Nethercutt grew tired of ads that lied and distorted his record, said Jim Dornan, Nethercutt's spokesman. And though Nethercutt has a large war chest and no major Democratic opponent, his campaign worried voters would believe the ads and Nethercutt's image would be damaged, Dornan said.
``We are fighting fire with fire ... . We're just not going to take it anymore,'' Dornan said.
Lance LeLoup, chairman of the political science department at Washington State University, said the attack ad seems out-of-character for Nethercutt and could tarnish his reputation as genteel and easygoing.
``There's a danger of making it look like he wants this job too badly,'' LeLoup said.
The Nethercutt ad, which also accuses U.S. Term Limits of having ``secret donors'' and ``massive funding by a New York real estate millionaire,'' began running Monday night in eastern Washington and will continue through next week.
U.S. Term Limits responded Wednesday with a new radio ad charging ``Nethercutt will say or do anything just to stay in power.''
On the Net:
Rep. George Nethercutt: http://www.house.gov/nethercutt/
U.S. Term Limits: http://www.termlimits.org/