NEW YORK (AP) — For the third straight election, the presidential candidates have agreed to suspend all campaign advertising on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, giving Americans a one-day breather from partisan backbiting.
The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney confirmed Wednesday that they would honor a request for an ad moratorium made by a New York-based civic group that promotes Sept. 11 as a national day for community service.
In a letter to both candidates last week, MyGoodDeed.org founders David Paine and Jay Winuk, whose brother died at the World Trade Center, urged the candidates to make the day about unity, not politics.
"We are making this request ... so that the families of those lost, and the nation as a whole, can dedicate 9/11 to, and focus on remembering in prayer, and honoring through service, the 9/11 victims, rescue and recovery workers and the many individuals who rose to defend our nation in response to the attacks," the letters said.
MyGoodDeed made a similar plea for a truce during the 2008 campaign. Both Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, suspended all television advertising on the seventh anniversary of the attacks. The two candidates also visited ground zero together, walking side by side into the pit.
In 2004, President George W. Bush and his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, also pulled their advertisements off the air for the day.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Winuk and Paine said they hoped that suspending political ads on Sept. 11 would become a permanent feature of presidential campaigns.
"I think a lot of people inside and outside of the 9/11 community are really going to appreciate this," Winuk said. "I think it sets a good example for people campaigning for other offices around the country, who will hopefully follow suit."
Both men said they felt that the moratorium might help recapture some of the spirit of solidarity that many Americans felt in the days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in which hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.
"It carries a powerful message on a national stage," Paine said. "We need to remember that we are Americans first, before we are Republicans or Democrats."