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Monday, October 27, 2008

Veterans' divide on candidates: Distinct views on leadership, judgment shared

An excerpt:
Conventional political wisdom for decades has been that the military leans predominantly Republican, but a former junior Army officer who served in Iraq and supports Obama said that isn't the case anymore.

"I think it breaks about 50/50 (Democratic and Republican) in the enlisted and junior officer ranks," said Terence O'Rourke, a former Army captain who lives in Portsmouth and works as lawyer in the Rockingham County Attorney's Office.

O'Rourke told me he was encouraged to take a serious look at Obama by one of the sergeants in the field artillery platoon he commanded.

"He (Obama) has the rare ability to inspire people and be steady," O'Rourke explained to me. "He'll lead on the economy, and I believe him when he says he'll end the war in Iraq."

When I asked O'Rourke why McCain, a former Navy fighter pilot and Vietnam War hero, does not inspire him, he told me it wasn't a matter of respect, but judgment.

"I admire and respect his service," he said. McCain "never really learned anything about Iraq. He had the wrong judgment; otherwise, he wouldn't have supported it in the first place because the reasons to go were wrong."

O'Rourke emphatically rejects McCain's assertion that anything short of victory in Iraq would be a disaster. "How many times do we have to win in Iraq?" he asked.

After spending a year on patrols, he said, "we succeeded during the original invasion. We succeeded in keeping the country from coming apart. We can't do anything more militarily. The Iraqis are telling us they want us to leave. What we need is political will to find the right solution."

O'Rourke believes Obama is the right person to exert that political will.

See also:
Private Opinions: How Soldiers really vote

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