( AFP )- A US liberal group Friday released an advertisement that rails on Republican White House nominee John McCain for backing a US Air Force decision to award a huge contract to Europe's Airbus.
"A message of thanks to John McCain from the French people," says the video ad, which is in French with English subtitles and was issued by the Campaign for America's Future, a self-described "progressive" think tank.
"John McCain, hero of France," reads a banner on the Arc de Triomphe in the opening scene, and later McCain is depicted as wearing a beret and a curly mustache.
"Thanks for helping the US military choose a French company, Airbus. Tens of thousands of jobs for the French and thousands fewer for Americans, ha, ha, ha!" it says.
"It's a great day for France. Long live John McCain and long live France."
The ad was issued the same day as a meeting between McCain and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.
McCain has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers for backing a legislative change in 2004 that allowed the deal to take place, and the liberal group cited press reports that said his aides had lobbied for EADS to win the deal.
But McCain's campaign shot back that the Arizona senator had led an anti-corruption investigation that helped rein in a multi-billion-dollar defense procurement scandal involving Boeing and the Pentagon, action which had nothing to do with Airbus.
"All he was looking for was a fair and open process. He didn't care who won," McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers told AFP.
"Senator McCain only wanted a fair competition that got the best weapons system at the best price for the taxpayers."
On February 29, the contract to build up to 179 military refueling planes was awarded to Northrop Grumman Corporation and Airbus's parent company the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), Boeing's arch-rival in commercial aircraft.
It was a stunning upset for Boeing, until now the sole supplier of air refueling planes to the US military.
Boeing earlier this month officially challenged the decision, a move that temporarily freezes the estimated 35-billion-dollar contract.