Topeka U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun has unleashed new TV ads saying his Democratic opponent worked with a group "opposed to the hunt for Osama bin Laden."
But Nancy Boyda, the Democrat challenging Ryun for his 2nd District congressional seat, said Monday the ad was full of lies and called on Ryun to stop running it.
"Jim Ryun is wrong to say that I did not support our troops, he is wrong to say that I did not support the war on terror, and he is wrong to insinuate that I wouldn't do anything possible to defend our country, to rout out Osama bin Laden," Boyda said at a news conference, flanked by military veterans. "It's a lie. He knows that, and he needs to retract those statements."
Ryun's campaign maintains Boyda helped organize anti-war protests in the winter and spring of 2003 and refers to comments in The Kansas City Star newspaper stories attributed to Nancy Thrutchley, Boyda's name before she married Manhattan attorney Steve Boyda. At the time, Boyda was living in Johnson County and was a Republican.
At one protest rally, Boyda (then Thrutchley) carried a sign that said "I Love My Country," according to one of the Star reports.
In another Star report, she was quoted as saying about the Iraq war, "the U.S. has a long way to go to close the rift this war has caused with the United Nations and the world community."
"She was the one who chose to launch the first attack ads in this race," Ryun campaign spokesman Eric Haar said. "She was the one who made Congressman Ryun's level of support of our troops an issue in this race, and it is completely fair to call into question things she has done or said."
The Ryun ad began running Friday.
In it, an announcer says Boyda organized protests "while our troops were defending our freedom with an organization opposed to the hunt for Osama bin Laden."
Boyda said, "This ad is an out-and-out gutter attack and is the best evidence that he (Ryun) has lost his Kansas values and will now say anything to hold his seat."
She said that before the war with Iraq started, she had questions whether a broad enough coalition had been formed to launch an offensive. She refused to answer whether she had organized protests to the war.
But, Boyda said, once President Bush started the war, any second-guessing about whether it was the correct policy was "inappropriate."
She said she supported the troops and wanted to make sure they were safe and returned home as soon as possible.
"It's time for Jim Ryun to make a formal apology and take this ad off the air," she said.
Jeff English, Boyda's campaign manager, didn't deny that Boyda was involved with war protests in Johnson County, but he insisted Ryun's television ad was wrong in saying she organized protest trips to Washington, D.C.
Boyda said Ryun's attack ad showed that he feared she could beat him in the November election, and was launched to deflect attention from his stand on the issue of selling private insurance policies at military installations.
Recent reports have shown that soldiers are getting scammed by unscrupulous insurers while Ryun has opposed efforts by the Pentagon to rein in the insurance companies.
The 2nd Congressional District runs the length of eastern Kansas and includes western Lawrence, Topeka and Manhattan.