Obama in Colorado: Campaign touts record on veterans; Romney supporters hit back
By Sarah Burnett, The Denver Post
Posted May 23, 2012, 7:35 am MT
President Obama’s re-election campaign touted his work on behalf of veterans and military families in advance of his visit to Colorado today, while his opponents prepared to blast him via conference call, radio ads and at an afternoon rally.
The president is scheduled to give the commencement address at the Air Force Academy this morning. Around 3:30 p.m. he will speak at a fund raiser at the Hyatt Regency downtown Denver.
The campaign this morning released a new television ad in several swing states, including Colorado – home to more than 400,000 veterans, according to the 2010 census. The 30-second ad, titled “Sacred Trust,” features Obama speaking about the sacrifices American troops have made, while words about his record on veterans issues flash on the screen.
“It’s because of what they’ve done that we’ve been able to go after al Qaeda and kill (Osama) bin Laden,” Obama says. “And when they come home, we have a sacred trust to make sure we are doing everything we can to heal all of their wounds, giving them the opportunities they deserve to find a job and get the education they need.”
On Tuesday morning, Obama for America national co-chair John Register, an Army veteran, and Zoe Dunning, board co-chair at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, introduced the local “Veterans and Military Families for Obama” effort.
“Veterans have seen incredible progress under President Obama in just three short years,” Register said during a conference call with reporters. “As we’ve come home from war, the president is honoring our service and sacrifices. That’s why veterans and military families of all ages are organizing for him.”
Veterans traditionally have supported Republicans, but the Obama campaign is hoping to change that this year by emphasizing the president’s role in ending operations in Iraq, drawing down troops in Afghanistan, the killing of Osama bin Laden, ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the passage of two tax credits that encourage businesses to hire unemployed and disabled veterans, as well as other initiatives.
Dunning, a Naval Academy graduate and retired commander, criticized presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Last fall, the former Massachusetts governor suggested privatizing the Veteran’s Administration, she noted. (Romney later backed away from the idea). And in his 160-page plan to fix the economy, he doesn’t mention the word “veterans,” Dunning added. Neither do the 23 key policy areas listed on Romney’s campaign website.
“When it happens every time, it’s not an accident. It’s a pattern,” she said. “It tells you a lot about who Mitt Romney is.”
Romney supporters, meanwhile, counter that the president’s economic policies have been particularly hurtful to veterans, who return home to unemployment rates that remain too high.
This morning, former U.S. Senator Hank Brown – a Republican who also served as president of both the University of Colorado and the University of Northern Colorado – will join the Republican National Committee for a conference call “to discuss the state of education” in advance of the Air Force Academy speech.
Education policy also is the subject of anti-Obama radio ads from the conservative organization Compass Colorado that will begin running on two Denver stations today.
“Everyone has suffered in the Obama economy but recent college graduates are worse off than most,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, president of Compass Colorado. “It’s going to be very difficult for President Obama to tout his record across college campuses when the majority of the audience is unemployed and living at home.”
Republicans also have scheduled a rally to highlight Obama’s “failed policies” in advance of his Denver fund raiser. The event is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. outside the Colorado Convention Center.