Nevertheless, the Kean campaign will challenge that biography in "a long-form film," Mr. Leonardo said, just as commercials broadcast in 2004 attacked Mr. Kerry's military record. Those commercials, relying on claims by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, purported to expose Mr. Kerry's military decorations as exaggerated or fraudulent. Although the premise and many elements of the Swift boat advertisements were strongly disputed, as a whole they were seen as successful in hobbling the Kerry campaign.
"The similarity between the Swift boat ads and this movie — you have two individuals who have told stories for a political purpose and the facts just don't jibe," Mr. Leonardo said. "And these two individuals were able to get away with telling it their way for more than a decade and a half. I would say it's very similar in that way."
Mr. Kean's most serious charge is that Mr. Menendez was "part of a massive illegal kickback scheme" as a Union City official in 1978, and not the courageous truth teller depicted in his résumé. Mr. Kean charges that Mr. Menendez cooperated with prosecutors to keep himself out of jail.
Mr. Kean's charges are not, however, supported by the public record and were repudiated by independent authorities including the four assistant United States attorneys who prosecuted Union City officials of that era for racketeering and corruption. There is no truth, those former officials say, to the Kean campaign's charge that Mr. Menendez made a deal to keep himself out of prison.