McCain appeals to veterans

Addressing a national veterans’ convention in Las Vegas on Saturday, Republican presidential candidate John McCain criticized his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, for not supporting last year’s temporary buildup in troop levels in Iraq.

"The lasting advantage of a peaceful and democratic ally in the heart of the Middle East could still be squandered by hasty withdrawal and arbitrary timelines," McCain told about 3,500 fellow members of the Disabled American Veterans at Bally’s Las Vegas. "This is one of many problems in the shifting positions of my opponent, Senator Obama."

Obama, who has advocated setting deadlines for bringing home American troops, opposed the so-called troop surge when it was proposed, predicting that it would not have the desired effect of quelling violence in Iraq. McCain supported it despite its unpopularity at the time.

"It was a clarifying moment," said McCain, a Navy veteran and former prisoner of war. "It was a moment when political self-interest and the national interest parted ways."

The troop increase has been credited with reduced levels of bloodshed, but Obama has since said a combination of factors, not just the surge, were responsible.

"Senator Obama still can’t quite bring himself to admit his own failure in judgment," McCain charged, adding that the episode showed Obama lacked "the judgment to be commander in chief."

McCain devoted the bulk of his speech at the disabled veterans’ annual convention to outlining proposals for reforming veterans’ health care. Though McCain said he wouldn’t be signing the group’s "Stand Up for Veterans" pledge, he said, "I give you my word that as president I will see that these obligations are kept."

The scandal that revealed shocking lapses in outpatient care at Washington, D.C.’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center was "a disgrace unworthy of this nation," McCain said. "Americans who fought to defend this nation should always rank among the highest of national priorities."

McCain said he would "make sure that Congress funds the VA health care budget in a sufficient, timely and predictable manner." Those are buzzwords for the veterans, who blame problems with VA funding and services on the fact that its budget comes from discretionary rather than mandatory federal funds. As a result, the agency’s funding is often late and subjected to political pressures.

McCain said that although he supported adequate VA funding, it must not be burdened by wasteful earmarks.

He also called for creation of a "Veterans’ Care Access Card," which he said would allow vets to get health care outside VA facilities if time, distance or availability of specialists made it difficult to access the VA system. The idea of such a card is opposed by the veterans group, which does not want veterans’ care in the hands of private companies.

"This card is not intended to either replace the VA or privatize veterans’ health care, as some have wrongly charged," McCain said in his speech. "I believe the VA should always be there to provide top-quality care for our veterans."

McCain further advocated reforming the system to improve treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, and to increase services available to growing numbers of female veterans.

A Democratic disabled veteran who responded to McCain’s speech on behalf of Obama’s campaign criticized McCain for his support of the health care card idea, saying vets want to be treated by the VA, with their "buddies," and what’s needed is VA expansion rather than alternatives.

Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois former congressional candidate who lost both legs in Iraq, also criticized McCain for not supporting the "New G.I. Bill," an expansion of veterans’ education benefits that became law earlier this year. Obama supported the legislation, while McCain, who had opposed it, was not present for the vote in the Senate.

"When the time came to cast a vote on the most important piece of legislation to improve benefits for veterans, Senator Obama was there for us," Duckworth said. "Senator McCain did not show up."

Duckworth, now director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, was honored as the Disabled Veteran of the Year at the convention.

Obama, vacationing with his family in Hawaii, addressed the convention Saturday morning in a videotaped speech.

McCain has gotten low marks from the disabled veterans group in the past, earning the lowest grade in the Senate in the group’s 2006 rankings, a 20 percent score.

The grade was largely because of McCain’s votes against bills that included VA funding because of his opposition to wasteful spending. Obama got an 80 percent score.

Joe Violante, the organization’s legislative director, said it has good working relationships with both presidential candidates in the Senate.

"He is a fiscal conservative," he said of McCain. "The biggest problems we’ve had with him have been issues about increased funding for the VA."

Contact reporter Molly Ball at or 702-387-2919.

VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like