Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Seth Moulton delivered supportive yet stylistically different speeches Wednesday night as part of the Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Families’ annual awards ceremony.
Booker, the New Jersey senator, criticized Democrats who are only looking to defeat President Donald Trump, saying the unity of the country and other goals far outweigh a simple political victory.
“We’ve got to have bigger aspirations than that,” Booker said. “Beating Donald Trump is the floor, not the ceiling. Beating Donald Trump is the valley, but it does not get us to the mountaintop.”
While Moulton, a Massachusetts congressman and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, agreed with his colleague from the other congressional floor on restoring unity, he was much more forceful in his attacks on Trump. He called for immediate impeachment and twice referred to the president as a “draft dodger” at the veteran-centric event.
Moulton said Trump and the Republican Party have changed America’s motto from “yes we can” to “no we can’t” with a Muslim ban, anti-immigration rhetoric and the suppression of voting and abortion rights.
“That’s what Trump and the Republicans are actually running on,” Moulton said. “They’re running against our values. Cory and I — we’re running for our values.”
Though the two candidates offered one another support, they displayed contrasting styles. Booker used his typical animated, anecdotal style – moving around the podium despite somewhat cramped surroundings. Moulton was more measured and spoke for longer, rattling off various policy positions in addition to campaign promises.
Booker and Moulton tailored portions of their speeches toward veterans issues as they spoke in a section of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in the eastern Las Vegas Valley. With veterans and their families, the audience consisted of Nevada politicians, including Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, Attorney General Aaron Ford and about a dozen state legislators.
“We have not done as good a job as we should of in taking care of (veterans),” Moulton said. “But there are some committed public servants in this room who want to turn that around, and you should be proud.”
Booker said the country can come up with billions of dollars to send veterans to conflicts around the world but does not take proper care of them when they return.
“Everybody wants to — especially around Veterans Day — stand up and say nice words about our veterans,” Booker said. “But the reality is that how veterans and their families are treated in this country is shameful.”
The Republican National Committee issued a statement in the visit: “Democrats like Cory Booker and Seth Moulton have failed to prioritize our veterans and military families, but President Trump continues to deliver results with the largest pay increase in nine years, increased transparency and accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the expansion of the Veterans Choice Program.”
The event was somewhat unusual for the candidates in that they were not the final speakers or main attraction, and as such had to deliver uncharacteristically brief remarks.
Top billing was reserved for state Sen. Pat Spearman and Assemblywoman Brittney Miller, who each received the 2019 Abbinett Award for their public service on veterans issues.
The award was named after Johnathan L. Abbinett, a Las Vegas veteran and advocate who died of Agent Orange-related cancer stemming from his service in Vietnam.
Miller dedicated the award to her father, a Vietnam War veteran whose struggles upon returning home motivated her, she said, to help veterans through public service.
Spearman, a U.S. Army veteran, said she was blessed to be able to accept the award, noting many of her brothers and sisters didn’t come back from war, and some who did were not the same.
She said the next election must “restore to the White House the dignity that should be there that honors the men and women who died in every other war.”