(The Root) — President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has launched Veterans & Military Families for Obama, a "campaign within a campaign" to tout the president's commitment to these groups — and to draw stark distinctions between his record on related issues and those of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
"It really seems like Romney just doesn’t care about our community," said Rob Diamond, the Obama campaign's outreach director for veterans and military families, in a conference call with reporters today. Romney, he said, cut veterans services as governor of Massachusetts and supports a House GOP budget that would "slash" veterans funding by $11 billion.
Republicans struck back, with Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes saying that the troops returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to find jobs and are waiting too long to receive disability claims and mental-health services; he also said that there is "absolutely no matrix, no calculation you could use, that would lead you to believe that Obama's policies have not failed veterans and military families."
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the nation's highest-ranking elected official to have served a tour of duty in Iraq, and Sgt. Maj. John Estrada, the second African American to obtain this rank, explained their stakes in the effort to re-elect the president on a call with reporters.
"I'm very excited about the re-election of President Obama and the reception in the veteran's community … what I hear, what I feel, what I sense in this community is that we've got a president with a very strong commitment to veterans and military families … I'm really excited that we're going to build on the president's success from 2008," Brown said.
Estrada praised the president's delivery on the campaign promise to arrange for electronic exchange of records between Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to decrease the delay in veterans' receipt of benefits. "We no longer have veterans who wait so long that some of them end up passing away without getting their benefits," he said. "I think that's a true sign of a great leader."
Obama is planning to travel to 16 states over the next few weeks and participate in outreach events including phone banks, house parties and press conferences to reach military voters.
Here's a video from the Veterans & Military Families for Obama website: