Local Vietnam Veterans Gauge Impact Of Swift Boat Ads - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/24/04-Tyler

Local Vietnam Veterans Gauge Impact Of Swift Boat Ads

The controversy surrounding the Swift Boat television ads has dominated news across the country this week.  Recent polls show those ads may even be hurting John Kerry's credibility with other Vietnam veterans.

Now a new book titled "Unfit For Command" has created even more of a buzz.  KLTV spoke with two veterans Tuesday to find out what kind of effect it's all having.

The ads are tough.  A series of spots, featuring former soldiers who fought side by side with Senator Kerry in Vietnam, now bringing his record into question.  The new book comes from the same men who helped produce the T.V. ads.

While considered negative, local veterans like Dr. Pat Thomas say it's their right.

"I think it's the wrong thing to do, I don't think they should criticize his service at the time but of course there are special interest groups that do that sort of thing," he said.

Thomas served as a physician during the war, even earning a medal himself.  He says the ads are interesting, but so far have no merit.

"If you can prove they're fabrications then I would think that would be true but I don't think they have done that to this point."

Veteran C.C. Campbell spends much of his time these days, talking politics at his restaurant in Tyler.  An admitted Kerry supporter, he's upset by the personal attacks.

"It shouldn't be an issue," Campbell said  "The issue should be he served in the American service X amount of years and then he moved on, I don't think they should really be trying to blemish his record."

Campbell was just 17-years-old when he first went to Vietnam.  Since then he's taken up a number of different causes for former veterans.  It's those issue he believes should be pushed to the front.

"They should set that part down and get back to the basics and lets run America and get out of the negative campaigning."

These veterans don't agree on everything, but they do agree the outcome of this election should not come down to these attacks.

"I think the great majority of the people will base their decisions on the man himself and I hope they'll do that and not on the basis of unproved theories," said Thomas.

Neither Campbell or Thomas say they are planning to buy the book.  While sold out, most stores we checked with are planning to get additional copies later this week.

Chris Gibson, reporting
cgibson@kltv.com

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