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Sen. Walsh Calls Out the Troops to Try to Win Seat

His Republican challenger, who leads in the polls, says the appointee didn't jump on the VA scandal fast enough. (For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

Rod Kackley


June 17, 2014 - 12:07 am
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Sen. John Walsh, a former adjutant general of the Montana National Guard, is fighting for veterans’ votes as he tries to hang on to the job to which he was appointed when former senator and now U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus went to China — and one veterans’ group is responding.

Strategically speaking, Walsh needs all the reinforcements he can get. Walsh may not be like Napoleon at Waterloo or Custer at the Little Big Horn, but the former head of the Montana National Guard is in trouble.

The Democrat trails Rep. Steve Daines (R) by 13-to-15 percentage points in the most recent polls conducted of Montana voters by Rasmussen and CEA/Hickman Analytics.

Walsh fired the latest veterans-repeated volley June 10, accusing Daines of failing to support any policies that would “address the root causes” of the recent scandal surrounding VA health services.

This followed Walsh’s demand in the first week of June that the Obama administration change its current policy and allow veterans waiting for healthcare to receive services outside of the Veterans Administration system.

As the first Iraq war veteran to serve in the United States Senate, Walsh has introduced legislation to help address the growing healthcare crisis among veterans. Walsh has also supported legislation to restore cost-of-living increases for future military retiree pensions, expand compensation for family caregivers of disabled veterans, and help secure housing for disabled and low-income veterans.

“It’s not enough for Congressman Daines to talk about fixing problems with the VA,” said John Bennett, one of the Walsh Warriors — another group of military vets supporting Walsh.

Bennett, a retired staff sergeant who served with Walsh in Iraq, also said, “We need someone in Washington who is able to offer real solutions and do what is best for veterans and their families.”

However, Daines said he was one of the first House members to call for the resignation of embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki back on May 7.

“The backlog of cases and long wait times at the VA are a national disgrace,” Daines said in a television ad. “That’s why I called on the Veterans Affairs Secretary to resign, and why I support reforms to hold Washington bureaucrats accountable.”

Daines also accused Walsh of  “leading from behind. For nearly a month Walsh played political games – blaming me for the VA’s problems – instead of calling for action.”

Still, — a national veterans’  group that claims to have more than 400,000 members and is supporting 16 other Democrats in elections across the U.S. — recently launched a television ad in Montana highlighting Congressman Daines’ failure to support veterans, calling Daines “tough on Montana families.”

The ad features a Billings mother of nine children, six of whom served in the Marines, saying Daines hurts military families and veterans.

In the ad, Loraine Tackett says, “Being a mom to nine kids can be tough.  Even tougher with Andy and five others in the Marines Corps.”

Her son, Andy, an Iraq War veteran, says, “Iraq vet John Walsh gets that.  He supports families like ours, by taking care of our troops and their families, both overseas, and at home.”

“But politician Steve Daines?” asks Lorraine. “He voted against raising troops’ pay and improving veterans’ health services.”

“Steve Daines is tough all right,” they conclude. “He’s tough on Montana’s military families.”

The ad was scheduled to run for a week and a half, across broadcast and cable television, at a cost of $275,000.

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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"Anything above O-4 in Guard is political"-- so true.

Any O-6 that deployed probably came back with a Bronze Star. If it isn't a BS with Valor, it was an attaboy. The Guard, as mentioned before, has nepotism problems (I have deployed with three of them). Being a Col in the Guard is one of the most coveted spots in the military, you don't have to move every two years, pour coffee at the pentagon, or have real procurement responsibilities. There are some very good people in the guard, but someone coming out of it would have a burden to prove they are not nepotistic, especially at that level.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Even though Walsh is a vet, for a vet to vote for a Democrat is just self-defeating, at this point. It does not matter what an individual Dem believes, his Party will force him to toe the line.

Just look at Mary Landrieu for an example of that. Prior to 2008, she was rated as more conservative than 6 of the Republicans in the Senate. Since, she has voted something like 97% with Obama. I don't think her views have changed. It's just that her Party has lurched far Left, and they brook no departure from the Party line.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anything above O-4 in Guard is political.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don't forget, former Vice Chairman Brandon Friedman is the one who tweeted that Bergahl's platoon mates might have been psychopaths. To suggest that it is veteran's organization concerned about veteran's issues is a big of a stretch. VoteVets is the Democratic Party's attempt to co-opt veterans' votes by pretending to care about their issues while openly speculating that they might all be psychopaths.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Those of us in Montana were really looking forward to not just voting Max Baucus out this fall but tar & feathering as well. Since he is now safely in China, and Walsh has been chosen by the Democratic Party as his successor (check his voting record so far on all the Democrat's pet projects-- lockstep), Steve Daines, our lone U.S. representative, has been exemplary. John Walsh should be honored for his military service. And, all Vets deserve the utmost respect and compensation for their sacrifice and we need to keep our promises to them. Montana has a disproportionately larger than average amount of population in active military service. Steve Daines is, hands down, still our best representation in Washington for families and Vets.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Joe M
I would normally support the idea of honoring vets for the service. I'm a retired USAF NCO myself.
Walsh's service at the National Guard appears to have been little more heroic or to involve little more sacrifice than did Al Gore's service. (Kerry's has been overrated but he did get shot at.) He apparently made one trip to Iraq but I doubt he patrolled. He's overstating his military record and dancing around the biggest way he drew the Army's attention: by misusing his position as Adjutant General.
And yes, his political record is "flaming liberal."
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Hegdahl expects Walsh will be “a true advocate, in every sense of the word.”"

He will, eh? Then why wasn't he before? Progressives, forever living in a land of make-believe that would have made Mr. Rogers go: "WTF?"
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
And isn't it a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for him to campaign in his uniform?

What's he think about the Bergdahl exchange?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"What's he think about the Bergdahl exchange?"

He's a Democrat, Bill. What was he told to think?

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Howdy Bill
Walsh is retired from the Guard. He has not worn his uniform to any campaign events but he has used photos of himself in uniform for campaign material. I dislike that but I doubt it violates any laws or ethics.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
So did Walsh support the legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House but killed by Harry Reid that would have empowered the VA secretary to fire unsatisfactory (to be polite) VA executives?

Has Walsh condemned Reid for stopping the bill?
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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