Republican Ex-Senator And Vietnam Veteran Endorses President Obama

Yesterday, Larry Pressler, well-respected former Republican Senator from South Dakota (1979-1997), issued a detailed, full-throated endorsement for President Obama’s reelection. Pressler, a life-long Republican who served twenty-two years in Congress—at times serving as chairman of several senate committees, including Foreign Relations–is also a U.S. Army veteran, having served two combat tours in Vietnam. Citing his many reasons for endorsing the President, Pressler stated:

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.

As a Vietnam Veteran (and one-time Republican) myself, I am more than a little impressed by Pressler’s strong endorsement, which is based on principle, and the record and policies of the candidates…not party ideology. In an earlier Addicting Info Op Ed, I detailed my own reasons why I believe all thinking veterans should oppose a Mitt Romney presidency…beginning with the fact that Romney received several religious deferments to avoid the draft and service in Vietnam, while having hypocritically demonstrated for the draft and the Vietnam War.

To his credit, Senator Pressler didn’t even bring up Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy baggage but—instead—concentrated on what a Romney Presidency would actually mean for all veterans. Pressler detailed his own congressional experience to illustrate the stark differences between the President and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. He accused Romney of “pandering to election-year politics” and cited the President’s foreign policy accomplishments in ending the Iraq War, while ending another:

As a former member of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman of the then Commerce Committee, I came to know the federal budget in detail. I’m disappointed that just as our troops are returning home after a decade of war, Romney and Ryan might gut by up to 20 percent investments in the Department of Veterans Affairs — and even suggest privatizing the veterans’ health care. Again, they would short change our national security and the education, health care and employment benefits our veterans have earned and deserve just to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Let’s be clear, Romney and Ryan would be disastrous for America’s service members, veterans and military families. Public praise rings hollow when you fail to mention an ongoing war in accepting your party’s nomination to be president, or veterans in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a so-called jobs plan or in a budget that should be a blue print of our nation’s values.

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