Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Iraq War vets running for office overwhelmingly Democrat

  1. #1
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Uranus
    Posts
    31,885

    Default Iraq War vets running for office overwhelmingly Democrat

    By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY
    ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. The lunchtime crowd is thinning at Portillo's Hot Dogs near O'Hare Airport when the candidate arrives. Leaning on a cane, she moves slowly on her $120,000 bionic legs with a stooped and halting stride.

    Tammy Duckworth lost both legs while serving in Iraq. After more than a year in rehab, she's campaigning for Congress.
    By Tim Dillon, USA TODAY

    "Hi! I'm Tammy Duckworth, the Iraq war veteran running for Congress. You might have heard of me?" she says, extending her mangled right arm to shake hands.

    Indeed, many here in Chicago's western suburbs have already heard of the Illinois National Guard helicopter pilot who lost both legs and full use of her right arm when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her Blackhawk in a 2004 attack in Iraq.

    Maj. Ladda "Tammy" Duckworth, 37, spent nearly a year at Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital, and her rehabilitation has been chronicled in national media, including USA TODAY.

    Duckworth is the only seriously wounded combat veteran running this year for Congress, whose ranks of members with military experience are at their lowest since World War II, according to Congressional Quarterly. (Photo gallery: Tammy Duckworth: Sights and Sounds)

    But at least nine other veterans who served in the post-Sept. 11 military have announced House bids. All but one Republican Van Taylor in Texas are Democrats who have criticized the Bush administration's conduct of the war. They join dozens of older veterans from both parties touting military credentials as U.S. troops head into a fourth year in Iraq.

    Veterans have long returned from battle to continue their public service in politics, but the current field of candidates with military experience may be the largest since World War II. (Related link: Vets seeking office)

    The new candidates reflect their times. Support for the war, and the Republican administration behind it, is at its lowest: 61% disapprove of President Bush's handling of Iraq, according to a mid-December USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll.

    Duckworth says it was "a bad decision" to invade Iraq. So, she is competing on another field of battle: politics. She hopes to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Hyde, a Republican who has held a House seat for more than 30 years. The political neophyte must first beat two other Democrats in a primary and then take on Peter Roskam, a Republican state senator in the GOP-leaning district.

    Duckworth says politics doesn't compare to what she's already overcome. She recalled the "nightmare" of Nov. 12, 2004, when crewmates struggled to carry her maimed body to safety, dropping her because her gushing blood made her too slippery.

    "They gave me a second chance at life," she said, choking back tears, during an interview. "I've just got do something just to be more."

    John Szeliga, 29, a salesman here, is the kind of voter Duckworth and her fellow veterans-turned-candidates hope to attract. "Her story is pretty cool," he said. "Being a veteran, crashing a helicopter, now running for Congress. Not too many people do that."

    At least not lately. One in four House members and fewer than one in three senators have served in the military, Congressional Quarterly says. In the USA, 12% are veterans, the Census Bureau says.

    After World War II, future presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon were among veterans who ran for Congress almost as soon as they got home. It took more than a decade for Vietnam veterans, many of whom were reviled for their role in the unpopular war, to get into national politics. Today, their ranks include Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Kerry, D-Mass.

    Republicans tried in 1992 to recruit Persian Gulf War veterans to challenge Democrats who opposed ousting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Few answered the call.

    Today, Democrats are leading the recruiting drive, focusing on GOP-majority districts where being strong on defense plays well.

    Most troops lean Republican

    The numbers of veterans running as Democrats are all the more remarkable given a Military Times Poll late last year that found 56% of active-duty troops consider themselves Republicans and only 13% are Democrats.

    "Since Vietnam, the Democratic Party has been viewed as the weaker on national security issues," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says. "Who better to make the case than veterans of the war? It's hard to accuse them of a lack of patriotism."

    Democrats thought they inoculated themselves when they nominated Kerry, a Vietnam combat veteran, for president in 2004, only to see his military record picked apart over his later anti-war activities.

    Just being a veteran isn't enough, says Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the independent Rothenberg Political Report.He says some Democrats have rallied around political novices with military experience after they couldn't attract more experienced candidates.

    "A strategy based merely on recruiting veterans, even Iraq war veterans, overemphasizes a single credential," Rothenberg says.

    Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, agrees. "You also have to be a good candidate," he says.

    Still, some Democrats took heart from a special House election in August, when Iraq combat veteran Paul Hackett lost by fewer than 4,000 votes in an Ohio district that went 64% for Bush in 2004.

    The Republican who beat him, Jean Schmidt, helped rally Democrats again in November during a heated House floor speech. She said a constituent asked her to tell Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated veteran who has called for troop withdrawals in Iraq, that "cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

    "When Schmidt called Jack Murtha a coward, she called each and every one of us a coward," says Eric Massa, a former military aide to Gen. Wesley Clark, who is challenging Rep. Randy Kuhl, R-N.Y.

    'Fighting Democrats'

    Massa and Duckworth are among the "Fighting Democrats" party leaders hope will help recapture the House after 12 years of GOP rule. Some have formed a political action committee (www.bandofbrothers2006.org) to support veteran-candidates and fight back against conservative campaigns like the ones that targeted former senator Max Cleland. The Georgia Democrat, who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was defeated in 2002 by Republican Saxby Chambliss, who ran ads picturing Cleland with Osama bin Laden.

    Cleland says there is "a disquiet in the gut" of returning veterans. "They want to come back and tell the truth about Iraq," he says.

    The Democratic veterans differ on domestic issues but contend that the Bush administration failed to provide enough troops, armor and planning in Iraq and now has no strategy to get out. Some, like Duckworth, say troops should be withdrawn gradually. Others, like Patrick Murphy, a military lawyer who served in Baghdad and is challenging Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., favor a timeline for withdrawal. "They can't give us a snow job," says Murphy, 32. "We've seen with our own eyes."

    The candidates insist they are not one-issue politicians. Chris Carney, a Naval reservist who served as a special adviser at the Pentagon two years ago, says he decided to run against Rep. Don Sherwood, R-Pa., last March at the height of the right-to-die controversy over Terri Schiavo. "I didn't think it was Congress' business" to get involved with the brain-damaged woman's fate, he says. "That was the final straw of politics at the extreme."

    It was no accident, either, that Duckworth's first campaign speech was on a subject of great interest in her upper-middle-class district: taxes targeting the affluent. "If I suck you in here because of my legs, that's great," she said. "Now let's talk about the really important stuff to people in my district."

    Rothenberg calls Duckworth "one of the stronger" veterans running. Her story and charismatic personality first caught Democrats' attention soon after she arrived at the Army rehab hospital in Washington. It was there that Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democrats' No. 2 leader, first met her and invited her to attend last year's State of the Union address.

    "Seeing the pageantry of what I had just given up my legs for was very emotional," she recalls. Duckworth returned to Capitol Hill in March to testify about veterans' care and was struck by "the need to have more people serving in Congress who've been there."

    When Durbin asked her to run last summer, she thought, "It's my generation's turn to step forward."

    Initially, little enthusiasm

    The national party's enthusiasm for Duckworth wasn't matched, at least initially, among local Democrats, who noted she lives three miles outside the district. The Constitution requires only that representatives live in the state, and Duckworth says she is "emotionally attached" to her house, which was modified for her wheelchair.

    Before Duckworth got in the race, local Democrats had backed Christine Cegelis, a computer consultant who won 44% of the vote against Hyde in 2004. But Cegelis has raised little money and lacks Duckworth's "star power," University of Illinois-Springfield political scientist Kent Redfield says.

    Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott is also running in the primary.

    Roskam says that after "knocking on 3,500 doors," he believes Iraq isn't a "resonant theme" for voters.

    But at a recent Schaumburg meeting, Democratic activists sat raptly as Duckworth rattled off stories about Iraq, including how U.S. forces gave body armor to Iraqi troops just before missions so they wouldn't sell it to insurgents.

    The next day, even Cegelis admitted Duckworth's war stories were "extremely compelling," noting they opened her eyes to what is happening in Iraq. Still, she says the move to field veterans instead of more liberal candidates who she believes would appeal to the party's base is "about symbols and that's very disappointing."

    Democratic committeeman Rocco Terranova says that while many "were a little disenchanted" when Duckworth was drafted into the race, they've adjusted.

    "She's a war hero," he says, "and the war's on everybody's mind."
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

  2. #2
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! ourmaninBusan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    the new casino
    Posts
    4,732

    Default Re: Iraq War vets running for office overwhelmingly Democrat

    Massa and Duckworth are among the "Fighting Democrats" party leaders
    hope will help recapture the House after 12 years of GOP rule. Some
    have formed a political action committee (www.bandofbrothers2006.org)
    to support veteran-candidates and fight back against conservative
    campaigns like the ones that targeted former senator Max Cleland.
    I just had an appalling thought. Suppose the end-of-the-century
    romance with WW2 (The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw,
    Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers by Spielberg) were
    created to put the country in a WW2 frame of mind...as if in
    anticipation of 9/11/2001? To stoke the fighting spirit just in
    case we were attacked?

    Nah. Couldn't be.

    ♫` ∴|| ~∞≠∝ ♫♪ $ -4C

  3. #3
    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Uranus
    Posts
    31,885

    Default Re: Iraq War vets running for office overwhelmingly Democrat

    Jesus, that's a scary thought!
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. According to FOX, Foley's a Democrat!
    By Mr. Authority in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 40
    Last Post: October 6th, 2006, 05:30 PM
  2. Many Iraq vets homeless, study finds.
    By Grimmlok in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: July 5th, 2006, 01:23 PM
  3. Military veterans opposed to Bush, running for office
    By twitchy in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: February 24th, 2006, 12:59 PM
  4. Bush and Cheney to salute vets.
    By buttmunch in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: November 12th, 2005, 02:56 PM
  5. Vietnam vets sue John Kerry for slander
    By Grimmlok in forum U.S. Politics and Issues
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: October 12th, 2005, 01:48 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •