Posing the first question in a Denver town hall meeting yesterday, a Vietnam veteran challenged Sen. John McCain on his Senate voting record regarding veterans issues, remarking he had voted against increasing vets health funding four years in a row. Ignoring the veteran’s point, McCain testily — and repeatedly — insisted that he had “received every award from every major veteran’s organization in America”:
MCCAIN: I’ve received every award from every major veteran’s organization in America. I received every organization in America their awards. … 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 organizations is because of my support of them. [...]
VETERAN: You do not have a perfect voting record by the DAV and the VFW. That’s where these votes were recorded. These votes were proposals by your colleagues in the Senate to increase health care of the VA in 2003, 4, 5, and 6 for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And you voted against those proposals. [...]
MCCAIN: I’ve been endorsed in every election by every veterans organization 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.
Watch the video, via AHiddenSaint:
McCain has made the exact same claim before — and it is just a false today as it was then. As ThinkProgress documented, McCain’s so-called “perfect” record has been roundly criticized by prominent veterans groups: He received a grade of D from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a 20 percent vote rating from the Disabled Veterans of America; Vietnam Veterans of America noted McCain had “voted against us” in 15 “key votes.”
As for the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars — with whom McCain claims to have a “perfect voting record” — both groups vigorously supported Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) GI Bill that McCain tirelessly opposed.
Later in the town hall, McCain admitted he does “not have a perfect voting record,” but then declared that questions about veterans issues were off limits: “I will be glad to debate a lot of things, but not that one,” McCain said.