WASHINGTON (AP) – In emotional appeals, relatives who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks vouch for President Bush or Democrat John Kerry in new TV ads that try to persuade voters that just one of the two would best lead the country in a time of terrorism.

“I want to look in my daughter’s eyes and know that she is safe, and that is why I am voting for John Kerry,” Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband was killed in the attacks, says in an ad by the Democrat’s campaign.

In another commercial by a Republican interest group, Ohio teenager Ashley Faulkner recalls being comforted by Bush after her mother died in the attacks. The president is shown embracing her. “He’s the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I’m safe, that I’m OK,” the girl says.

The commercial by Progress for America Voter Fund strikes a positive note in what has been a generally negative campaign, particularly on the air. The ad, which started running Tuesday, is meant to appeal to voters on the fence, particularly women and seniors, by showing a different side of the Republican incumbent.

With two weeks to go in the presidential campaign, terrorism, the 2001 attacks and the Iraq war are dominating the TV ad wars as commercials on those topics fill airwaves in key battleground states and on national cable networks.

On Monday, Bush began running a new commercial that calls Kerry and “his liberal allies” a risk the country can’t afford to take. His ad says, “After Sept. 11, our world changed. Either we fight terrorists abroad or face them here.”

In the past two days, Kerry has launched at least three ads about those issues. One assails Bush for a comment he made that “I truly am not that concerned about him,” a reference to Osama bin Laden. Another released Tuesday argues that “it’s time for a fresh start” and has Kerry assuring voters “I’ll stop at nothing to get the terrorists before they get us.”

Breitweiser, of Middletown, N.J., narrates the third. Her husband Ron died in the World Trade Center, and her appeal on behalf of Kerry attempts to make the case that voters should oust Bush.

The ad is filled with family photographs, including one in which her husband cradles their infant daughter. She says: “I fought for the 9/11 Commission, something George W. Bush, the man my husband Ron and I voted for, didn’t think was necessary. And during the commission hearings we learned the truth: We are no safer today.”

Progress for America is spending $14 million over the next two weeks to run its ad featuring the teenager Ashley Faulkner on cable networks and in nine states – Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri.

It’s a huge amount for an outside interest group to put behind one ad, and the group calls it the single largest investment in a single political ad to date. At 60 seconds, the ad is twice as long as most. It started running at moderate to heavy levels on Tuesday.

Brian McCabe, the fund’s president, said the group will buy even more airtime, given that it has received $3.3 million in pledges since the ad started airing Tuesday morning.

In the commercial, Faulkner’s father, Lynn, says: “My wife Wendy was murdered by terrorists on Sept. 11.” The ad says their daughter “closed up emotionally but when President George W. Bush came to Lebanon, Ohio, she went to see him as she had with her mother four years before.”

Hearing that the girl had lost her mother in the attacks, “he turned around and came back and he said, ‘I know that’s hard. Are you all right?”‘ the daughter recalls.

“It was in that moment that we saw Ashley’s eyes fill up with tears,” remembers family friend Linda Prince.

Adds Lynn Faulkner as Bush is shown with his arms around a firefighter: “What I saw was what I want to see in the heart and in the soul of the man who sits in the highest elected office in our country.”

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