We’re launching an ad blitz today aimed at Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX).  If you’ve kept up with the news, you know that this has been a long time coming.  We’ve listened to the debate go back and forth for months now, but the refusal of certain Senators to support the Webb-Hagel GI Bill can no longer be tolerated by veterans.

From the VoteVets.org press release:

In both ads, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan explain that only the Webb-Hagel bill will fully grant them the educational benefits they’ve earned, while a substitute bill, offered by McCain will grant them only a fraction of their benefits.  Neither McCain nor Cornyn back the Webb-Hagel bill, which is due for consideration in the Senate this week.

"We didn’t give a fraction in Iraq," the veterans say in the ad.  "We gave 100 percent."

The McCain version of the ad began airing this morning in heavy rotation on Washington, DC cable and broadcast, while the Cornyn version of the ad began on broadcast and cable in the Waco and San Antonio markets, which both include military bases.

Veterans said that Senator McCain should follow the leadership of Senators Webb and Hagel, by supporting the bill which has the support of a majority of Senators from both sides of the aisle, and every major veterans group.

Here are the two ads:

Ad #1, Urging Senator John McCain to support the 21st Century GI Bill

Ad #2, Urging Senator John Cornyn to support the 21st Century GI Bill

The four vets featured in the ads are Luke Goodrich, Alex Cornell du Houx, Peter (P.J.) O’Brien, and Brian McGough--all of whom are members of VoteVets, and all of whom have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both.

The AP has already published an article on the ad buy and spoken with VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz:

Other veteran's groups--from Veterans of Foreign Wars to the American Legion--support the Democratic bill. But VoteVets, which has been aggressive in its criticism of Bush's war policies, is the first to take McCain on directly.

"He's trying to run interference for the White House with a watered down bill," said Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org. "How could this not be an issue in the presidential campaign if he doesn't vote for this bill? There is no way for this to go away if he votes against it."

Alex Horton and I jumped in as well, providing commentary on John Cornyn from where we are, down here in Texas:

Alex Horton, an Iraq veteran from Austin, who will soon be using GI Bill benefits said, "The G.I. Bill enjoys broad support on both sides of the aisle, but unfortunately Senator Cornyn is fighting tooth and nail against giving adequate benefits to our troops and veterans, using it as a wedge in partisan politics. He needs to lead by example and get his name on a bill our veterans desperately need. As an Iraq War veteran, I'll be attending school in the fall under one G.I. Bill or another. My future has two paths: one is riddled with tuition debt and juggling a full time job with school, and the other is a path paved by benefits earned by my service to this country. Veteran students should not have to make a decision between food and school, and if Senator Cornyn makes the right decision to support this bill, we won't have to."

Brandon Friedman, an Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran from Dallas, and Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org said, "I began using the GI Bill less than a year after I returned from Iraq.  Unfortunately, the amount of money it provided wasn’t enough for me to live and go to school at the same time.  If I hadn’t found another source of income, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my program.  And to me, that’s not what the GI Bill is supposed to be about.  After serving in combat, veterans shouldn’t be placed in a position where they have to choose between going to school and paying the rent.  That was never the intention of the original bill.  Senator Cornyn needs to follow the lead of so many of his colleagues from both sides, who are doing the right thing to support our troops and veterans by voting for this bill."

Last time we ran a TV ad, John McCain came after us directly, so I’m eager to see if he (or Cornyn) does it again.

If you’d like to help VoteVets continue to air ads like these, please consider donating by clicking here.
Also available at VetVoice

Originally posted to Brandon Friedman on Tue May 20, 2008 at 07:31 AM PDT.

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