In the run up to the American presidential elections we will be asking a panel of BBC News Online users to share their views. Here, we asked them for their thoughts on the row over negative campaign ads and John Kerry's war record.
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Neil Sherman
Lives: Germantown, Tennessee
Works: Retired naval officer, Presbyterian minister
Current voting intention: Undecided
In 10 words or less:
"Husband, father of six, grandfather of 17, soccer fan"
I too was in the military during Vietnam, and I think the SBVT ad is awful. It should not have been broadcast.
John Kerry is a veteran and I respect him for that.
I respect all veterans and what happened during the war with those who served in Vietnam should be left alone.
The commanders and those who issued medals at the time made a decision and I think it should stand.
Having said that, let me say this.
John Kerry strongly emphasises his Vietnam record and his decorations in his quest for the presidency.
He now has to take the heat. I think he may have opened Pandora's Box.
These kind of ads, supporting both the Democrats and Republicans, remind me of hate groups.
They certainly show the seedy side of politics, and they should be banned.
Both political parties have been slow to refute the ads.
President Bush has stated that he would like to ban them. That's good political talk but it probably will not happen.
These groups are just a loophole in the Campaign Finance Law and they will continue to operate.
But my vote will not be swayed by these extra-campaign organisations. I remain undecided.
My vote will be determined by the candidate who I think can best lead this country.
Who can provide the best security for the United States? I want to feel secure when I fly on an airline. I want to know that we are doing all we can to prevent another terrorist attack.
Let's start dealing with the issues that affect the ordinary person and not about a war record from the past. Let's look forward.
Send us your comments on Neil's views using the form below.
I agree that we should debate current issues, but we cannot forget the past. John Kerry brought up his Vietnam record and therefore, we should examine it. The fact that more than 200 veterans that served alongside Kerry say he lied to earn awards and then betrayed his comrades by accusing them of atrocities raises questions about his character. Current issues should be at the centre of the campaigns, but on the other hand, we need to set the Vietnam record straight.
Tim, Bethesda, MD, USA
Neil you nailed it right on the head! Hate groups is what they are. We need to hear about the issues that are important to us now and yet the media focuses on these ads. They're not playing the speeches that Kerry and Bush are giving outlining their plans for the future. Hopefully Bush will take Kerry up on having weekly debates and more importantly that the media will play them. I mean really, the networks only broadcast three hours of the DNC and will broadcast only three hours of the RNC and with this we are supposed to make an informed choice for president? It's just insane.
Dee, Seattle, WA, USA
So let me see. Kerry opens himself up for any sort of distortion and lie if he attempts to emphasise his military experience? What pray tell is he supposed to do with his biography? Bush didn't denounce the Swift Boat Veterans. He denounced 527s altogether. God help America if easily swayed men like Neil vote for Bush again. God help us all.
Daniel, Oxford, UK
Neil has a balanced opinion on current politics that I wish more people would adopt. Fanaticism, whether from the left or the right, will not help this country in the long run. It would be wonderful if both sides used the tremendous amount of campaign contributions they receive to run ads that told us who they really are, what they really stand for, and where they actually intend to take this country during their term.
Lauren, Minneapolis, USA
The soft money ads are protected by the first amendment. Not all soft money ads distort the truth so banning them all is bad for free speech.
Lance Gritton, San Diego, CA, USA
It is a sad fact of American politics that our presidential candidates spar over each other's war records - even when it comes to that major blemish in US war history, Vietnam. Personally, I don't care what Kerry's and Bush's records were during the Vietnam war. I want to elect a president who has the courage and wisdom to keep the US out of unnecessary and immoral wars, including Vietnam and Iraq. That's what I want to hear them debate.
Bruce Nolan, Greenville, SC, USA
Fortunately I do not spend every waking hour watching television. I still do what the Republicans don't count on Americans to do, and that is reading. Therefore I will not be voting for Bush and neither will any other "thinking American"!
J Harris, Buffalo, USA
Neil, I agree with everything you said. This has to be creating a lot of difficult feelings for Vietnam vets. I do believe, however, that if Kerry would take the stance that the 527s should be stopped, they would. He won't do that, though, because of the vicious attack ads groups on his side have produced against Bush. He seems to want ads removed only if they are not in his favour, and that's just not how it works.
Jenna, Harrisburg, IL, USA