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Political TV ad aimed at Alaskans stirs up controversy

Alaska Dispatch

A controversial new television ad sponsored by a group called Americans for a Strong Defense criticizes President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. The ad is being aired in a handful of states, including Alaska. according to local TV station KTVA. It's kicking up a fair share of controversy.

The group behind the ad is targeting specific states, including Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado and New Mexico, because they have Democratic senators up for reelection in 2014 and, in some cases, the senators have not yet taken a stand on Hagel's nomination.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is among that group. The ad begins with, "We live in a dangerous world" and goes on to reference threats from Iran, North Korea and Russia. It ends by claiming that "Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense wants America to back down" and would like to "put an end to our nuclear program," leading to a "weaker country." It urges viewers to call their local Democratic senator to "say 'no' to Chuck Hagel before it's too late."

Some Alaskans are concerned over the ad's claims. Anchorage resident Ken Karabelnikoff told KTVA he found the ads disturbing and inaccurate, adding that the message seems to be based more on public fear than political facts.

Americans for a Strong Defense spokesman Ryan Williams disagrees. “We are simply laying out a record," Williams said. “We are simply citing facts and asking people to make their own decisions.”

Sen. Mark Begich said,  “Alaskans have never taken kindly to outside groups telling them how to think or act, and this is no exception." Begich has met with Hagel and has said he “appreciate (Hegel's) assurances” concerning various political issues.

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