Veterans may tend to vote Republican, but President Obama has a fighting chance to win their support this November, two Democratic politicians—who happen to be Iraq war vets themselves—argue.
Former Pennsylvania congressman Patrick Murphy and Setti Warren, mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, lauded Obama's commitment to veterans on Thursday's Hardball, while dissing Mitt Romney's record on veterans' issues.
"Mitt Romney is no John McCain," said Murphy. "John McCain is an American hero. He served his country and was wounded as a P.O.W. in Vietnam. Mitt Romney was in France during Vietnam." In 2008, McCain beat Obama by 10 points among veterans.
Warren pointed to Obama's initiatives supporting vets, including bringing home troops from Iraq, extending the benefits of the GI bill and giving tax credits to businesses that hire ex-military personnel. "As veterans learn of this president's record, they will be in support of President Obama this fall," he said.
Also in Obama's favor: The unemployment rate among 9/11 veterans is improving, dropping from 13 percent last summer to 9.5 today.
Still, the president needs to play catchup. According to a Gallup poll, Obama still trails Romney among vets by 24 points, 58 percent to 34. "Traditionally it is tough for a Democrat to win" veterans, acknowledged Murphy, but he added that Obama won vets under age 60 in 2008.
After 9/11, Murphy volunteered for overseas deployment, serving in Baghdad during the Iraq War from 2003-2004. Warren served a year in Iraq as a Navy intelligence officer in 2007.