Video: Campaigns go negative

updated 8/20/2008 10:57:22 AM ET 2008-08-20T14:57:22

Presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain plan to pull ads on Sept. 11 that criticize each other, a respite from the political fray to honor the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The campaigns made their decision known on the same day that a group backing community service on that day called on the candidates to refrain from partisan campaigning. The group, MyGoodDeed.org, wants Sept. 11 to become a national day of voluntary service and asked that Obama and McCain perform acts of community service instead.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said McCain did not plan to advertise at all on the anniversary. "Nine-eleven is not a day for politics," Rogers said.

The Obama campaign said it plans to stop airing anti-McCain commercials on Sept. 11.

"We hope Sept. 11th is a day when Americans come together and reaffirm our resolve to address the common challenges we face together," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said.

Both campaigns have been running tough ads against each other, with negative commercials outnumbering their positive spots.

MyGoodDeed.org is also among a number of organizations and families of Sept. 11 victims who plan to hold a ServiceNation Summit on Sept. 11-12 in New York. Sponsors invited Obama and McCain to attend a presidential candidates forum on Sept. 11.

McCain has agreed to appear. Obama's campaign said it is talking with event sponsors about the possibility of an appearance.

In a letter to both candidates Tuesday, MyGoodDeed.org founders David Paine and Jay Winuk noted that the country seemed to forget partisan differences in the days after the attacks and were unified by a sense of compassion. The group planned to announce their appeal to the candidates on Wednesday. The campaigns revealed their intentions when contacted by The Associated Press.

"We ask you to help us rekindle that sense of unity by suspending your campaign activity on 9/11, and engaging in your own personal expression of charitable service in honor of those who perished and those who rose in service to help rebuild our nation," Paine and Winuk wrote to the candidates.

Paine, the president of the group, runs a marketing firm in California. Winuk's brother, Glenn Winuk, was a lawyer and volunteer firefighter who died after rushing to the World Trade Center to assist victims.

In an interview, Paine said: "We didn't feel that it was appropriate for those individuals who want to lead our country to engage in divisive political activity on 9/11. Nine-eleven needs to be a day that is forever preserved as a day of unity and day of remembrance and day of compassion when we put aside our differences and we think about how we can help others in need."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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