Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) held a telephone town hall meeting, in which “thousands” of Nevadans — according to the McCain campaign — called to listen in. Among some of the hostile, pointed, and critical questions came one from a veteran, who challenged McCain on his voting record regarding funding for the Veterans Administration and veterans’ priorities:
Q: I know you voted for lesser increases, and sometimes they were so much less, and our VA desperately needs the money. Can you tell me why you would vote for less money for the VA when there’s a war going on?
M: Well of course I have not and I’m afraid I’ve been endorsed by the VFW in every election that I’ve been in. I have been — received the honors, the highest honor and awards from all our veterans organizations for my consistent support of them. I don’t know what you’re looking at, but the DAV, the VFW, the American Legion, all of them have given me their highest awards for my consistent support of them.
As ThinkProgress has repeatedly documented, McCain is either willfully lying or he is delusional about his record — and the meaning of “highest awards.” In fact, McCain has recently stood on the opposite side of all three of the groups he mentioned:
— Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW): Endorsed Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) GI Bill that McCain vigorously opposed; called McCain’s alternative GI Bill “very partisan” and said they “didn’t have much input” in its crafting.
Just last week, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans. (Obama got a B.) The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) have noted that in its “Key Votes,” McCain “Voted Against Us” 15 times and “Voted For Us” only 8. (Obama voted for VVA 12 times, and against only once.)
Earlier this month, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), a leading veterans advocate, excoriated McCain in an interview with ThinkProgress: “If you look at John McCain’s record on veterans issues, it’s a failed one.” It’s a sentiment IAVA executive director Paul Rieckhoff agrees with. Noting McCain’s dismal voting record on VA funding, Rieckhoff told ThinkProgress, “If he says the VA’s not working, it’s in part because he hasn’t funded it properly.”
In an interview with Richmond’s WTVR on Friday, McCain repeated his favorite lie: “I’ve been a friend of the veterans for a long time and I’ve received every award from every major veterans organization.” He added, “I’m proud of my support for the veterans.”