An Exchange of
Kerry-Edwards campaign generated some media attention on Aug. 25,
2004 when it dispatched former Sen. Max Cleland and Jim Rassmann, whose
life Kerry saved in Vietnam, to Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas to
deliver to the President a letter
signed by Democratic Senators who are
veterans. The Senators asked Bush to "recognize this
blatant attempt at character
assassination, and publicly condemn it." They
did not get through.
The Bush-Cheney campaign responded with a letter of its own in which
veterans expressed concern about Kerry's activities upon his return
Dear President Bush:
We, the undersigned members of the United State Senate call on you to
specifically condemn the recent attack ads and accompanying campaign
dishonor Senator John Kerry’s combat record in the Vietnam War. These
false charges represent the worst kind of politics, and we agree with
Senator John McCain and Senator Kerry that a firmly established service
in the United States Military is fully above reproach. As veterans of
services, we ask that you recognize this blatant attempt at character
assassination, and publicly condemn it.
Our outrage over these advertisements and tactics has nothing to do
with the tax code or campaign finance reform efforts of this nation.
from seeing these slanderous attacks stems from something much more
fundamental, that if one veteran’s record is called into question, the
service of all American veterans is questioned. This administration
tacitly comply with unfounded accusations which have suddenly appeared
after the fact, and serve to denigrate the service of a true American
The veterans serving today should never have to expect this kind of
when the wars of their generation have passed into history. We brothers
sisters in arms expect our Commander-in-Chief to stand up and reject
upon John Kerry’s honor, the honor of American veterans and that of the
United States Navy.
As you yourself have said, there is nothing complicated about
our troops. The leader so of this nation should make it clear that the
of our military will not only be supported when they wear the uniform,
when they return home to the land they fought to defend. Their valor
wounds, both physical and psychological, make them heroes for as long
live, a status which should not and must not change simply because they
enter public service. We who wore the uniform, served in different
the military join together today to defend a fellow veteran from
know to be false, and politically-motivated slander. Such attacks have
in our democratic process.
President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, we believe you
owe a special duty to America’s combat veterans when
are under false and scurrilous attacks. We hope you will recognize this
and speak out against this group and their efforts to smear the
reputation of a
man who has served this country nobly.
Call on this group to cease and desist. We can return this campaign
season to a discussion of the issues on either side, and restore faith
political system. As Americans, we should expect nothing less.
The Bush campaign responded with a
letter of its own:
August 25, 2004
Senator John Kerry
304 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kerry,
are pleased to welcome your campaign representatives to Texas today. We
honor all our veterans, all whom have worn the uniform and served our
country. We also honor the military and National Guard troops serving
in Iraq and Afghanistan today. We are very proud of all of them and
believe they deserve our full support.
That’s why so many
veterans are troubled by your vote AGAINST funding for our troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan, after you voted FOR sending them into battle. And
that’s why we are so concerned about the comments you made AFTER you
came home from Vietnam. You accused your fellow veterans of terrible
atrocities – and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last
night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our
We’re proud of our service in Vietnam. We served
honorably in Vietnam and we were deeply hurt and offended by your
comments when you came home.
You can’t have it both ways. You
can’t build your convention and much of your campaign around your
service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who
agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard
for our right to free speech. We all earned it.
You said in
1992 “we do not need to divide America over who served and how.” Yet
you and your surrogates continue to criticize President Bush for his
service as a fighter pilot in the National Guard.
veterans too – and proud to support President Bush. He’s been a strong
leader, with a record of outstanding support for our veterans and for
our troops in combat. He’s made sure that our troops in combat have the
equipment and support they need to accomplish their mission.
has increased the VA health care budget more than 40% since 2001 – in
fact, during his four years in office, President Bush has increased
veterans funding twice as much as the previous administration did in
eight years ($22 billion over 4 years compared to $10 billion over 8.)
And he’s praised the service of all who served our country, including
your service in Vietnam.
We urge you to condemn the double
standard that you and your campaign have enforced regarding a veteran’s
right to openly express their feelings about your activities on return
Texas State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson
Rep. Duke Cunningham
Rep. Duncan Hunter
Rep. Sam Johnson
Lt. General David Palmer
Robert O'Malley, Medal of Honor Recipient
James Fleming, Medal of Honor Recipient
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Castle (Ret.)