The most influential ad of the 2004 campaign came not from the Republicans or Democrats but from a small political committee, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The first Swift Boat ad aired in August 2004 and featured 13 people who claimed to have "served with John Kerry," although only one of them actually did. The men questioned Kerry's war record, honesty, and loyalty to his fellow servicemen. Subsequent ads and the political fallout pushed the Swift Boat campaign into mainstream news consciousness and now the term is used as slang when discussing smear campaigns. Although it's hard to tell just how effective the ads were, one thing is for certain. Kerry lost.
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