McCain Gets Testy With Vet Over GI Bill

At the Colorado appearance where he stressed his economic program, John McCain got a question about a vet that he didn't seem too happy about. [med

At the Colorado appearance where he stressed his economic program, John McCain got a question about a vet that he didn't seem too happy about.

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The questioner, apparently a veteran, asks McCain about his voting against expansion of healthcare benefits to veterans for the years 2004-2007, years in which we have Iraq and Afghanistan veterans adding exponentially to the VA rolls. McCain testily reminds him that he has been endorsed by "all the organizations" and then launches into an explanation of his resistance to the Webb GI Bill that provided educational assistance to veterans. Wrong bill, Gramps.

When the questioner reiterates that his question went to healthcare--not educational--benefits, McSame reiterate that all the veterans' groups love him and blew him off. Temper, temper.

McCain: I've received every organization in America, their awards...[questioner says something-inaudible] Now, sir, I don't...I don't know what you're referring to nor do...[questioner continuing-inaudible] Sir, I'm responding to your question and then I will let you speak again, if you'd like, but you oughta...the way we try to conduct these is let people finish and then I will go back to [audience applause] to you...I'll go right back. So I don't know what bill you're referring to or what you're referring to and I'll be glad to have you refer to it. But the reason why I have a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and all the other veterans' service organization is because of my support of them, but if you can go ahead and respond if you want to. Go ahead. Give him the microphone back.

Q: I'll respond by saying this: that you do not have a perfect voting record by the DAV and the VFW. That's where these votes are recorded. And the votes were proposals...they were proposals by your colleagues in the Senate to increase healthcare funding of the VA in 2003, 4, 5 and 6, for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and you voted against those proposals. I can give the specific Senate votes, the numbers of those Senate votes, right now.


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McCain: Well, I thank you and I'll be glad to examine what your version of my record is. But, again, I've been endorsed in every election by all of the veterans' organizations that do that. I've been supported by them and I've received their highest awards from all of those organizations, so I guess they don't know something you know. So I thank you very much and I will continue to be proud of my support for the veterans of this country and proud of their support.

Transcript of full exchange below the fold:

Senator, veterans and all Americans admire your service in Vietnam. We admire the fact that you're the Straight Talk Express, but we know that you voted against...well, actually, you didn't vote on the new GI Bill and you spoke out against it. We understand you have a difference on that, but we don't...we haven't heard an explanation of why you voted against your colleagues' proposals to increase healthcare funding in 2004, 5, 6 and 7, when we had troops coming back from two wars.

McCain: Well, let me say first of all, sir, on the issue of the GI Bill, I have great respect for Sen. Webb and I appreciate his efforts and his service to our country. The issue was we need to increase our educational benefits for our veterans. And we were dedicated to that proposition. The problem that some of us had, who were career military people, was that there were studies that showed that we didn't have incentives to for people become career military people. I think those who have served understand the importance of the Non-Commissioned Officer and incentives for people to stay in. So we argued for an ability of veterans after... of active-duty service personnel after they've been in for a period of time, they could transfer those educational benefits to their spouses and/or family members. We felt that was one, appropriate, so a career military person doesn't have to worry about providing educational benefits in that way and also an incentive to stay in. Well, we reached an agreement. In case you missed it, we reached an agreement and we passed the legislation and we will now not only have the increased educational benefits but we will also have incentives for people to become career military people and be able to transfer those benefits. Now, I'm disappointed that it only went back to 2001. Senator...and I was disappointed that Senator Webb didn't support making it permanent. Senator Graham and I and other veterans will be looking to trying to extend that to all veterans, not just 2001. I hope you'll urge Sen. Webb and others to agree with that. Uh, my friend, I...all I can say is I don't know what you're pointing to but I received every award from every major veterans' organization in America. I've received every organization in America, their awards...[questioner says something-inaudible] Now, sir, I don't...I don't know what you're referring to nor do...[questioner continuing-inaudible] Sir, I'm responding to your question and then I will let you speak again, if you'd like, but you oughta...the way we try to conduct these is let people finish and then I will go back to [audience applause] to you...I'll go right back. So I don't know what bill you're referring to or what you're referring to and I'll be glad to have you refer to it. But the reason why I have a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and all the other veterans' service organization is because of my support of them, but if you can go ahead and respond if you want to. Go ahead. Give him the microphone back.

Q: I'll respond by saying this: that you do not have a perfect voting record by the DAV and the VFW. That's where these votes are recorded. And the votes were proposals...they were proposals by your colleagues in the Senate to increase healthcare funding of the VA in 2003, 4, 5 and 6, for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and you voted against those proposals. I can give the specific Senate votes, the numbers of those Senate votes, right now.

McCain: Well, I thank you and I'll be glad to examine what your version of my record is. But, again, I've been endorsed in every election by all of the veterans' organizations that do that. I've been supported by them and I've received their highest awards from all of those organizations, so I guess they don't know something you know. So I thank you very much and I will continue to be proud of my support for the veterans of this country and proud of their support.

About Nicole Belle

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Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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