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Friday, August 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Bush, McCain to sue over "527" groups

By Dan Balz
The Washington Post

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WASHINGTON — President Bush and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined forces yesterday to seek legal action to reduce the influence of "527" political organizations, but the two remained in disagreement over whether Bush should condemn a television ad attacking John Kerry's Vietnam service.

Bush called McCain en route to a campaign event in New Mexico to say his campaign would go into federal court in an effort to force the Federal Election Commission to prevent groups such as the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, named "527s" for the section of the tax code that governs their activities, from raising and spending money in unlimited amounts.

McCain said he secured Bush's commitment to support legislation to regulate the groups, which have used a loophole in the new campaign-finance law to become significant and controversial actors in the campaign on behalf of the president and the Massachusetts senator.

Separately, Kerry agreed to take off the air a commercial using footage from a debate during the 2000 GOP primaries in which McCain criticized Bush directly for allowing supporters to question McCain's commitment to veterans. McCain had asked Kerry to stop running the ad.

McCain said he still hoped Bush would condemn the Swift boat veterans' ad attacking Kerry's service, adding that he planned to raise the issue with Bush next week.

"I would like for him to specifically condemn that ad," McCain said. "But the most important thing to me is his commitment to bring them all under control and that way we can do that."

While McCain expressed satisfaction that Bush had joined the legal battle against the "527" groups, he said he believed it is too late to have any impact on the current campaign.

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