Toomey rolls out the vets
Republican Pat Toomey during a Tuesday news conference in Philadelphia. At left, Afghanistan vet Kevin Dellicker. Photo courtesy of the Toomey campaign.
PHILADELPHIA—Republican Senate hopeful Pat Toomey took aim at Democrat Joe Sestak’s national security policies Tuesday, trotting out a group of military veterans to paint himself as the true candidate for vets in the competitive Senate race.
Flanked by veterans and their families during an afternoon news conference here, Toomey criticized Sestak, a former Navy Admiral, for opposing missile defense systems and supporting civilian trials for terrorism suspects. He also promised that, if elected, he would support legislation to make it easier for those in active service to vote.
“My record is clear,” Toomey said at the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry Officer Quarters on Tuesday. “When I was in Congress, I supported the types of programs and benefits that veterans deserve, and I absolutely intend to support those principles and those policies and those ideas in the United States Senate.”
In rolling out his Veterans for Toomey coalition, Toomey’s campaign began in earnest its efforts to make inroads in the military community—a constituency from which Sestak enjoys support thanks to three decades in the Navy. Toomey’s campaign has been increasingly confident that it can court most any constituency in the current political climate. And moments after he addressed supporters here, Sestak’s campaign was already pushing back, noting that Toomey in 2003 voted against a $1,500 bonus for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the former congressman has a 25 percent lifetime rating from the group Disabled American Veterans.
“Pat Toomey is out of touch with the needs of average Pennsylvanians,” the Sestak campaign said, “and they deserve more in a senator.”
Toomey called the statements by Sestak’s campaign “a very creative and ridiculous reading of my record,” noting that some of the measures referenced by Sestak were included in larger legislation for, he said, political reasons. The bonus was an amendment to a larger 2003 military appropriations bill that Toomey supported, and no other provisions were in that specific amendment.
“Now there are times when some of these measures are [used] as an excuse to undermine the fiscal stability of our country,” Toomey said. “That’s very bad policy. And we shouldn’t hold military and veteran needs hostage to wasteful spending.”
June 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm