Veterans Group Hits Obama on Afghanistan and Iraq
By Ed O'Keefe in The Trail:
Having targeted Sen. Barack Obama's stance on the Iraq war before, the pro-McCain group Vets for Freedom this week begins airing a hard-hitting message accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of focusing more on his campaign than on his Senatorial oversight duties of military operations in Afghanistan. The group will spend $2.2 million to air the ad on cable stations nationwide, and in some California markets.
"Skipped" starts by noting Obama's poor Senate attendance record. It goes on to say he voted against funding military operations in Iraq and that his Senate subcommittee on European Affairs has yet to hold a hearing on military operations in Afghanistan -- familiar lines of attack already used by Republicans during the course of the campaign.
The ad concludes by urging passage of Senate Resolution 636, a resolution "recognizing the strategic success of the troop surge in Iraq and expressing gratitude to the members of the United States Armed Forces who made that success possible." The bill was introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), two prominent supporters of GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.
"Senator Barack Obama consistently argues the mission in Afghanistan has suffered as a result of the surge in Iraq. This argument is especially disingenuous considering he is the chairman of the committee designated to oversee the mission in Afghanistan, but he has yet to hold a single hearing," said Pete Hegseth, chairman of Vets for Freedom.
Obama has acknowledged his subcommittee has not held hearings on Afghanistan, and while his Senate attendance record is poor, McCain has not voted on any Senate measure in almost six months.
The Obama campaign did not respond to requests for comment about this ad.
Vets for Freedom aired a similar ad in mid-September that compared Obama's comments on Iraq to those of Gen. David Petraeus.
The group's decision to air the message on broadcast stations in solidly Democratic California is unusual, but Hegseth called the state an "untapped media market" with the nation's largest veteran's population. "While others have been running issues ads across the country, no one's really done so in California," he said. "It's an important place if you want to be a part of the debate. You have to be involved in California."
UPDATE 2:19 P.M. ET: In response, the Obama campaign calls the ad a "despicable distortion" of the senator's record.
"By this same measure, Sen. McCain supported cutting off funding for the troops and has been absent from every Armed Services Committee hearing on Afghanistan for the past two years," Obama campaign spokesman Nick Shapiro said. "Obama has been a forceful advocate for our service members."
By Ed O'Keefe |
October 1, 2008; 9:40 AM ET
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