In swing state Virginia, both sides court military vote
President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, in dueling rallies on opposite ends of this tossup state, appealed for support Thursday from a large voting bloc that could prove crucial: military members, veterans, and their families.
While Obama is leading in most polls in Virginia, Romney’s push for a more muscular foreign policy and increases in defense spending has helped him maintain a traditional GOP advantage among members of the armed forces and veterans. The Republican nominee pressed that strength at an American Legion Post in Springfield, in Northern Virginia, accusing Obama of shirking his responsibilities.
“How in the world, as commander in chief, you could stand by as we shrink our military commitment financially is something that I don’t understand, and I will reverse it,” Romney pledged.
The Obama campaign has been working hard to chip away at Romney’s support by highlighting the president’s achievements on national security, including ending the unpopular war in Iraq, improving relations with allies, and killing Osama bin Laden.
He also has been promoting efforts to improve the care of returning service members, including reducing the wait time to see specialists and hiring more mental health specialists.
‘Our volunteer base is phenomenal in this area. We have had overwhelming support from the veterans community.’
In a rally in Virginia Beach, Obama was introduced by Senator Jim Webb, a veteran and former Navy secretary who wrote the new GI Bill to provide tuition benefits to returning veterans.
“Let’s make sure we are implementing the post-9/11 GI Bill,” Obama said to bursts of applause.
The Obama team has been making a concerted effort to reach out to military communities in the Old Dominion and other states, a grassroots effort that appears to be changing at least some minds.