Former U.S. Senator from South Dakota
As a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam with twenty-two years of service as a Republican member of the U.S. House and Senate, I endorse President Barack Obama for a second term as our Commander-in-Chief. Candidates publicly praise our service members, veterans and their families, but President Obama supports them in word and deed, anywhere and every time.
As a Vietnam vet, one of the reasons I support President Obama is because he has consistently shown he understands that our commitment to our servicemen and women may begin when they put on their uniform, but that it must never end.
This decision is not easy for any lifelong Republican. In 2008 I voted for Barack Obama, the first time I ever voted for a Democrat, because the Republican Party was drifting toward a dangerous path that put extreme party ideology above national interest. Mitt Romney heads a party remaining on that dangerous path, proving the emptiness of their praise as they abandon our service members, veterans and military families along the way.
What really set me off was Romney's reference to 47% of Americans to be written off -- including any veteran collecting disability like myself, as a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) veteran.
Behind closed doors with his donors, Romney made clear he'd write off half of America -- including service members and veterans -- because, as he said "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility for their lives." But there's no greater personal responsibility than to wear your country's uniform and defend the rights we all enjoy as Americans. We don't sow division between "us" versus "them." The Commander-in-Chief sets the bar for all to follow and fight for the entire country. Mitt Romney fails that test. As a veteran I feel written off.
Just as revealing is what Romney actually says publicly. As a former Foreign Service Officer, I find it offensive that Romney, Congressman Paul Ryan and their Republican Party are politicizing the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans who lost their lives in Libya. Being Commander-in-Chief requires a resolve and steadiness that's immune to politics and fear mongering. Mitt Romney fails that test.
And along with high-profile Republican surrogates, Romney and Ryan are pandering to election-year politics rather than focusing on pending cuts to military spending. Strategy should drive our military priorities, not party purity.
We are a nation at war -- the longest war in our nation's history -- and we must remember the sacrifice that so many have given for the protection of our country and our values. That's why it's so surprising that Republican nominee Mitt Romney has given five speeches on foreign policy -- and will be giving another one today -- and has yet to outline any plan to end the war in Afghanistan or bring our troops home. That's unacceptable for anyone running to be Commander-in-Chief.
President Obama ended one war, is ending another and meeting our national security needs with support of our military leaders. He's laid out a clear plan that would reduce the deficit and prevent the mandatory military spending cuts that no one wants. But today's Republican Party, including Ryan who voted for the deal that would trigger the cuts, is willing to bring our country's defenses to the fiscal cliff -- just so a multimillionaire doesn't have to pay a single extra penny in taxes. And the real lack of leadership? Failing to own up to your role in racking up a record debt from two unpaid wars and two massive unpaid for tax cuts. Mitt Romney leads the party that fails this leadership test.