WASHINGTON — Playing off one of the most controversial US political ads ever, a liberal US religious group is warning that failure to ratify a landmark nuclear treaty with Russia could spark an atomic apocalypse.
The American Values Network advertisement shows a little girl counting as she plucks petals from a flower, shifts to an ominous countdown, and ends when the camera zooms in to her pupil to show a nuclear blast and mushroom cloud.
"In a world where terrorists seek to destroy everything we hold dear, Russia's nuclear weapons cannot be left unmonitored," says the voiceover. "Tell your senator, we must ratify New START now."
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) faces glum prospects of US Senate ratification this year because of objections from President Barack Obama's Republican foes and a ticking legislative clock.
Supporters of the treaty have made much of the fact that US inspectors have not had access to Russia's arsenal since the accord's predecessor expired in early December 2009.
The new ad is a remake of then-president Lyndon Johnson's controversial "Daisy" or "Peace Little Girl" attack ad -- aired just once by his campaign -- meant to scare voters away from Republican candidate Barry Goldwater.
That ad played off Goldwater's suggestion that the United States consider using tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam.
The television AVN commercial is running in Arizona, home to Republican Senator Jon Kyl, one of the treaty's lead opponents, and Tennessee, home to Republican Senator Bob Corker, thought to be a swing vote.
The group is also running radio ads in Florida, Mississippi, and Ohio, according to a spokesman.
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