(Cross-posted from the DNC Blog -- which, well, you all should be visiting anyway -- Tim)
This morning, forty Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress, all veterans gathered between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument to tell the American people that this group of "Fighting Dems" was coming together to take "The Hill" ... again. They came together as part of a group who recognizes the current administration doesn't hesitate to stand infront of the troops when it comes to a photo-op, but never stands behind them when it comes to providing the armor necessary to fight in Iraq, or the benefits promised when they return home.
Band of Brothers Prepare to Cross Street Together (Click to Enlarge)
The spiritual leader of the group was none other than Senator Max Cleland, who was savegly attacked by a Republican noise machine as being soft on terror despite leaving limbs on the battlefield. Senator Cleland kicked off the event by promising that any time a Republican disparages the service of those who served honorably in any number of previous or current wars/conflicts, there was now a "band of brothers" ready to return fire. It's always inspiring to watch Senator Cleland speak; here is some video and photos from his introduction.
Photo: Senator Max Cleland (Click to Enlarge)
Video: Senator Cleland's Introductory Remarks
The entire ceremony was pretty awesome, and there was a ton of press. It was amazing to see so many veterans running for office as Democrats gathered on one stage, for one cause: "We wore the uniforms of the American military with valor, honor and integrity. We pledge to do all we can to return those needed virtues to the United States Congress.
Photo: Band of Brothers on Stage (Click to Enlarge)
After the event was over, I had the opportunity to meet individually with several of the candidates and ask them some questions.
The first was Bill Winter. Winter is running against the insufferable Tom Tancredo in Colorado's Sixth Congressional District. Joe Rospars met Bill back during the DNC Fall Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona earlier this year. I personally enjoyed it when he removed the dog tags from his pocket as a reminder of what service to country really means.
Video - C0-6: Bill Winter
Andrew Duck was the last person to leave the event and had a horde of supporters and volunteers trailing him around the entire morning. He was quite popular, and this video might give you a glimpse as to just why.
Video - MD-6: Andrew Duck
Eric Massa is running for Congress in New York's 29th Congressional District. Massa is no stranger to the Internet grassroots, and frequently posts over at MyDD. Massa is taking on the infamous Randy "Shotgun" Kuhl, who only received 51% of the vote in 2004.
Video - NY-29: Eric Massa
I was finally able to get some one-on-one time with Senator Max Cleland. This man has admirers wherever he goes, and today was no exception. We talked about the 2006 elections and how trust will be a major issue this November.
Video - Senator Max Cleland Talks Trust
'Twas a fantastic event, and just the first of many today for the group. In the last hour alone, I have seen serveral of the candidates hanging out around Democratic Headquarters and all are scheduled to attend a reception later this evening. There are fifty-six Democratic veterans in total running for U.S. Congress in 2006. The outpouring actually prompted a response from the NRCC who said that the brave service of these veterans was just "[O]ne resume item."