Relatives of victims killed in the 11 September 2001 attacks have
criticised George W Bush for using images from the tragedy in his campaign
Some relatives said the use of such pictures was distasteful
Some of the families have complained that the images exploit those
killed in the attacks and are in poor taste.
"It's totally disgusting," said Dawn Peterson, whose brother
died in the attack on the World Trade Center.
A White House spokesman defended the election ads, saying they
emphasised Mr Bush's leadership at a time of terror.
"September 11th was a defining moment for our nation,"
spokesman Scott McClellan said.
"It was an experience that all Americans shared. It is the reason
we are still at war on terrorism."
BBC Washington correspondent Rob Watson says President Bush is
campaigning on the basic pitch that you don't change leaders during a time
But this controversy shows it is a pitch that will have to be handled
with sensitivity if it is not to backfire, our correspondent says.
The four television advertisements, which began showing on Thursday
across the US, marked the beginning of the Bush administration's campaign
for the 2004 presidential elections.
Among the images shown in two of the advertisements are images of
firefighters carrying a body, draped in a US flag, from the rubble at
Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood.
The International Association of Fire Fighters condemned the decision
to use their images and said the US president was being hypocritical.
"We're not going to stand for him to put his arm around one of our
members on top of a pile of rubble at Ground Zero during a tragedy and
then stand by and watch him cut money for first responders [emergency
services]," he said.
Other relatives said they felt their loved ones were being used to
score political points.
"Families are enraged," victims' advocate Bill Doyle, who
lost his 25-year-old son in the attacks, told Reuters news agency.
"What I think is distasteful is that the president is trying to
use 9/11 as a springboard for his re-election."
"It's entirely wrong. He's had 3,500 deaths on his watch,
However some victims' families disagreed, saying they found nothing
offensive in the use of such images.
"I don't have a problem with his pointing to his leadership at
that time," one woman, who lost her sister, told Reuters.
"He helped us weather it. To me it was a tasteful ad."