Tuesday, February 07, 2006

They're coming home! The dove-hawks will remove the chickenhawks from power

Copyright 2006 Associated Press
All Rights Reserved
Associated Press Worldstream

February 7, 2006 Tuesday 4:43 PM GMT

SECTION: INTERNATIONAL NEWS

LENGTH: 803 words

HEADLINE: Unhappiness with war in Iraq draws dozens of
veterans to congressional races

BYLINE: By JON SARCHE, Associated Press Writer

DATELINE: COLORADO SPRINGS Colorado

BODY:

A large and possibly unprecedented number of former
soldiers, sailors, Air Force personnel and Marines are
running for Congress this year amid unhappiness with
the war in Iraq.

About 40 of the candidates are Republicans, while at
least 55 are Democrats. By one count, at least 11
veterans of the Iraq war or Afghanistan are hoping to
get elected to the House or Senate, all but one of
them Democrats.

After 20 years in the Air Force and Bronze Star
service during the 1991 Gulf War, Democrat Jay Fawcett
decided to come home and run for Congress largely out
of disgust with the way American troops are being used
in Iraq.

"I think it's just gotten to the point where a
significant number of us who've served are looking at
this administration particularly and Congress doesn't
get off the hook and saying, `What're you doing?
What's the plan?'" he said.

The fighting Democrats, as some call themselves, say
their military experience could give them the
credibility to criticize the war without being
dismissed out of hand by the Republican party as naive
and weak on defense, as the Bush administration has
often done.

"One of the things I think is behind this movement is,
we're not stupid in the military. We know when we've
been used and misused," Navy veteran Bill Winter, a
Democrat who hopes to challenge Republican Rep. Tom
Tancredo in the Republican suburbs of Denver.

Former Sen. Max Cleland, a Democrat from Georgia, who
lost both legs and an arm while serving in Vietnam,
said the Iraq war veterans running as Democrats will
offer "a direct rebuttal" to the administration on the
Iraq war.

"This administration, come April, will be going into
the fourth year of this war after the president said
three weeks into it `Major combat over, mission
accomplished, bring them on,'" Cleland said. "You tell
me who's out of touch. It's not these Iraqi veterans
that are coming back and saying, `This is not the way
it was on the ground there, and I'm going to do
something to change this.'"

Fawcett, who spent years as a defense contractor after
leaving the Air Force, wants to take on Republican
Rep. Joel Hefley in a Colorado Springs-area district
that has one of the country's biggest concentrations
of veterans. It includes the Air Force Academy, two
Air Force bases, a major Army installation and NORAD,
the air defense command. The district has been
represented by a Republican since the seat was created
after the 1970 Census.

The roster of Democratic veterans includes engineers,
teachers, lawyers, business owners, a pastor. Their
stands on the war range from calling for immediate
withdrawal to demanding a clearer timetable and a way
out. Fawcett, for example, says that pulling out now
would be a mistake, but that the Bush administration
has failed to clearly state its goals and an exit
strategy.

Among the veterans running for office this year:

Marine reservist Paul Hackett, who served in Iraq and
is running for the Senate in Ohio. The Democrat
narrowly lost a special House election last year in a
district where President George W. Bush won 64 percent
of the vote in 2004.

Former Army Maj. L. Tammy Duckworth, a helicopter
pilot who lost her legs in a rocket-propelled grenade
attack in Iraq. She is running as a Democrat for the
Illinois congressional seat of retiring Republican
Rep. Henry Hyde. She said she privately disagreed with
Bush's decision to invade Iraq but still volunteered
to serve. "We should have been fighting the enemies
that attacked us at home on 9/11," she said in
December. "We should have been out there trying to
catch Osama bin Laden."

Democrat Eric Massa, a 24-year Navy officer
challenging freshman Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl in
western New York.

Elections after the end of World War II and the
Vietnam War also saw large numbers of veterans running
for Congress.

Republicans this time around could have a difficult
time countering opposition to the administration's war
plan or the war itself from veteran-Democrats, said
Gary Jacobson, a congressional scholar at the
University of California at San Diego.

"Popular sentiment is not terribly pro-war now, and
there's lots of doubts about the administration's
honesty and the purposes of the war," he said. "So if
you have a veteran come back and start trashing the
war, that's a problem for Republicans."

Though polls show doubts about the war, a veteran
cannot count on an easy win, said Ed Patru, spokesman
for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"Being a veteran, it's great to have that on your
resume," he said. "People appreciate veterans, but if
you're wrong on taxes and the economy, the
bread-and-butter, kitchen-tabletop kind of issues,
being a veteran is not going to save you."

On the Net:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America PAC:
http://www.iavapac.org

Band of Brothers: http://www.bandofbrothers2006.org

LOAD-DATE: February 7, 2006

*****************************************************

Copyright 2006 Newhouse News Service
All Rights Reserved
Newhouse News Service

February 6, 2006 Monday 1:07 PM EST

SECTION: DOMESTIC

LENGTH: 1034 words

HEADLINE: Iraq War Veterans Storm Onto the Campaign
Trail

BYLINE: By J. SCOTT ORR.

J. Scott Orr can be contacted at
scott.orr@newhouse.com

DATELINE: MIDDLETOWN, Md.

BODY:

The war veteran, sleeves rolled up, talks politics
with a group of small-town educators dining on roast
pork and twice-baked potatoes.

The vet, Andrew Duck, is explaining how his wartime
experience in Iraq and around the globe makes him just
the man to represent this rural Appalachian district
in Congress. The teachers offer questions and
encouragement.

He hands out little rubber duckies wearing combat
helmets, a nice touch for a fellow named Duck who
believes his experience as an Army intelligence
officer gives him bona fides on issues of national
security, particularly the war in Iraq.

He's one of many.

From Pennsylvania to Illinois to Texas, Iraq War
veterans are returning home and running for Congress
in unprecedented numbers. Almost all are Democrats who
share a general disenchantment with the prosecution of
President Bush's war plan.

"We have not seen anything like this before in terms
of so many vets coming back and immediately jumping
into a race for office," said Amy Walter, who tracks
House races for the Cook Political Report, a
nonpartisan newsletter that analyzes elections.

"It can add a certain stature that might help some
candidates break through the clutter," Walter said.
"Having service in Iraq is certainly an asset. Whether
it will become the defining element of successful
campaigns remains to be seen."

While veterans' experience might be an advantage at a
time when polls show the war in Iraq is a top concern
among voters, it takes more than a service record to
win a congressional race as Duck's encounter with the
teachers of western Maryland showed.

During his two-hour visit with them at the Tea Room on
Main Street here in his hometown, the Democratic
candidate was never asked about the war, though he
volunteered his opinion that Bush's response to 9/11
was "weak and ineffective."

Instead, he spent most of the evening discussing
education issues like merit pay, vouchers and charter
schools sounding like a soldier as he did.

"My background is national security, and I believe
quality education is a national security issue," he
said at one point. Later he called Bush's No Child
Left Behind program "the opening salvo in a war on
public education."

Duck, who is challenging seven-term Rep. Roscoe
Bartlett in a heavily Republican district, spent 20
years in the Army, working his way from private to
captain. He was deployed three times in Bosnia, before
serving as an intelligence officer assigned to the 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Iraq. He
retired in 2004 and now works at the Pentagon for
defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

According to "Band of Brothers," a political action
committee promoting Democratic veteran candidates,
there are more than 50 vets challenging incumbents in
Congress this year. Of those, at least 10 are Iraq War
veterans.

Most do not describe themselves as "anti-war"
candidates and do not advocate immediate withdrawal
from Iraq. They are far more likely to call for a more
forward-looking plan to end the conflict.

The lone Republican among them, Texas candidate Van
Taylor, stresses the need to "finish the job" in Iraq.
"Cutting and running is not a policy to provide
security to the American people," Taylor said.

These aren't the first veterans of the current war to
run for Congress. Stephen Brozak of New Jersey and
David Ashe of Virginia ran unsuccessfully in 2004, and
Paul Hackett lost in a special election to fill a
vacant seat in Ohio last year.

Hackett's race may have inspired some of his comrades.
The former Marine major ran a strong campaign on a
national security platform and came within 4,000 votes
of victory in a district that Republicans have
routinely won by landslides. Hackett is back this
year, seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge
Republican Sen. Mike DeWine.

Brozak, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel, raised
and spent about $800,000 on his losing race against
Republican Rep. Mike Ferguson, who spent $2.8 million.

"The reality is that veterans have this experience and
credibility on national security and the war, but you
have to be able to get that message out," Brozak said.
"You can get drowned out ... if there is overwhelming
money on the other side."

Jon Soltz, himself a veteran of the Iraq war, has set
up the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Political Action Committee to help raise money for
veteran candidates who agree with a set of principles
that includes the developing of a clear exit strategy
for Iraq and providing better equipment for the
troops.

"We're supporting candidates for Congress who believe
we cannot continue on the course we are on in Iraq. We
need fresh leadership in Washington. Not one elected
politician has fought in this war," Soltz said.

Taylor, if he wins his Republican primary in Texas'
17th District, has among the best chances of election,
based on recent voting patterns. He would face
eight-term Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards in a district
that was redrawn in 2003 and gave President Bush 69
percent of its votes in 2004. It also happens to
include Bush's ranch.

Taylor, 33, is a former Marine Corps captain who led
one of the first missions into Iraq and participated
in the rescue of former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch.
He also has an MBA from Harvard and experience in
business consulting and real estate. He endorses the
principles of Soltz's PAC.

As does Tammy Duckworth, another candidate with a
solid chance of winning. Duckworth lost both legs and
use of her right arm when the helicopter she was
piloting was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. She
is running for the seat being vacated by the retiring
Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., in a district that has become
more competitive over the years and supported Bush by
just 53 percent in 2004.

Experts agree that while photographs in battle gear
can certainly enhance a candidate's image, to be
successful they must bring more than a military record
to the political fray.

"There are really only a couple of them that have a
chance of winning," said Larry Sabato, a political
scientist at the University of Virginia. "Being a
veteran opens some doors, attracts some media
attention, but in the end you have to be a strong
candidate and you have to be running in the right
district."

LOAD-DATE: February 7, 2006

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