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Last Updated: Monday, 5 January, 2004, 18:00 GMT
Bush ad contest names finalists
US President George W Bush
The public was told be "creative" in expressing views on Mr Bush
Online activists in the United States have selected 15 finalists for a political advertising contest.

The liberal MoveOn site challenged its readers to develop television messages that "tell the truth" about the policies of US President George W Bush.

The contest was condemned by supporters of Mr Bush when one entry compared the president to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

The winner will be aired during the week of the president's State of the Union address in mid-January.

MoveOn launched the "Bush in 30 Seconds" competition to find "creative, clear and memorable ideas" for political commercials in what is now a presidential election year.

The liberal advocacy group said traditional campaign advertising looked and sounded so similar that voters had tuned out, even when there were important issues at stake. It said it wanted entries that would engage and enlighten viewers.

"We want to run ads that are of the people, for the people, and by the people," MoveOn declared.

To meet legal requirements, entrants were asked not to call on people to vote for or against Mr Bush.

And entrants were not instructed to make anti-Bush ads, though the competition website listed the "top seven reasons" why the Bush administration should be challenged on its policies towards Iraq, the environment, education and other matters.

Among the finalists are ads suggesting that Mr Bush lied in his State of the Union address last year when he said Saddam Hussein needed to be tackled, and one that suggests today's children will end up paying for the government deficit.

'Poor taste' entries

More than 1,500 prospective ads were submitted by the public, and website users voted for their favourites.

One of the ads which was on the MoveOn website featured images of Hitler speaking and then Mr Bush, ending with the question "Sound familiar?"

It was removed from the site with the other unsuccessful entrants on 1 January, but not before it attracted the ire of Republicans as well as Jewish groups which opposed the use in an American political debate of Hitler, who ordered the extermination of Jews.

MoveOn was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying it had intended to screen out ads like the Hitler one which were in "poor taste" and would never consider running such a campaign.

The overall winner will be picked by a panel of celebrity judges including writer Michael Moore, Democrat campaigners Donna Brazile and James Carville and singer Moby and announced on 12 January.




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