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No one was surprised when both presidential candidates appealed for votes Saturday at the annual convention of the nation's largest organization of disabled military veterans.
But Fred Bristol, who has attended the Disabled American Veterans convention for the last 55 years, marveled at his fellow veterans' reaction to Sens. Barack Obama, who sent a video, and John McCain, who addressed the group in person. "I think there's an unusual split in the group we haven't seen in the past," said Bristol, 81, of Sarasota, Fla. "I'm hearing that from a lot of friends."
The 1.4-million-member group said that in 2006, he voted for only one of the five spending bills the group considered most important -- 20%.
"It's a pretty low score," said David Autry, spokesman for the congressionally chartered nonprofit group. The group rated Obama (D-Ill.) at 80%.
Duke Hendershot, a double amputee retired Marine who served in Vietnam, supported McCain’s run for president in 2000 but is undecided this year.
“John just isn’t the same as he used to be. He’s not his own man,” said Hendershot, who lives in San Antonio, Texas. “A lot of that has to do with how he’s wanted this job so bad for so long that he’s tied himself to President Bush.”
He said McCain’s embrace of Bush, whom Hendershot called a “draft-dodging coward,” is even more perplexing because of the rivalry between the two candidates during the 2000 campaign. Hendershot also criticized McCain for taking swipes at Obama in his speech. “He should have been talking about veterans issues, not his opponent,” he said.
By contrast, he praised Obama for keeping his remarks tightly focused on veterans. The Democrat gave taped remarks via video.
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Re: McCain can't be sure veterans will fall in behind him
Democrats are better for federal employees, including veterans, Republicans are better for defense. That's no big surprise. Everyone has to decide if they're going to vote for individual circumstances or for the bigger picture.