Conventional wisdom says current and retired military personnel are more likely to support Republican presidential candidate John McCain over Democratic candidate Barack Obama in November. The Obama Campaign is out to throw water on that kind of thinking.
The Missouri Veterans for Obama Steering Committee is getting out the word there are men and women who once wore the uniform who support Obama in his quest for the White House. Committee member Jack Hembree, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who served in Korea and Vietnam, is in the Obama camp. The Springfield resident says that while he respects McCain for the Arizona Senator’s service to the country, Hembree says McCain has not done enough for veterans.
"I have just been absolutely dismayed at his support for veterans," says Hembree. "His record is just absolutely abysmal." Hembree adds McCain’s voting record shows a lack of support for troops coming home.
Those comments are dismissed by State Representative Jason Brown (R-Platte City), a military veteran who co-chairs the Missouri Veterans for McCain Coalition. Brown, a veteran of Bosnia and Iraq, was wounded in action and earned a Purple Heart. Brown points out there are solid reasons for McCain voting against certain pieces of legislation. Says Brown: "When he has not supported, quote – a veterans’ bill – it has been, time and time again because it wasn’t enough – because he wanted more for veterans."
The two veterans differ on the issue of experience and the importance of it. "To be qualified for the President of this country," says Hembree, "You don’t have to put a uniform on. You have to have the judgment and the vision. Senator Obama has got the judgment and the vision, even though he may not have ever put on the uniform."
Brown has no doubt McCain wins the experience contest hands down. "If you just look at the practical experience – foreign policy, public service, military service – there is a night and day difference – a stark contrast between the two men that are running for President, for Commander in Chief." Commenting specifically on Obama’s judgment, Brown asks, "If he’s got such sound judgment, why does he still, to this day, say he would not change his mind on the Surge, even though it’s been successful? Unfortunately," continues Brown, "He’s an individual that cannot admit that he made a mistake – that he might have been wrong."