VIRGINIA BEACH Democratic vice presidential nominee and U.S. Sen., Joe Biden reached out to military families and veterans this morning, saying the Bush administration’s mismanagement of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have stretched the military to its breaking point.
“America’s not at war, the military’s at war,” Biden told a friendly crowd of several hundred listeners at a campaign stop at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The military “is the only thing we’re asking anything of,” he said.
Biden, a veteran senator from Delaware and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the repeated deployments required by the wars have exhausted military units and strained and broken up families.
He said America would spend billions of dollars over the years providing medical help to more than 14,000 military personnel who have suffered severe injuries in the wars.
Biden said he and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would bring the war in Iraq to a careful end.
He said that while GOP critics call Obama inexperienced, Obama had the sound judgment to oppose starting the war in Iraq and to lead the call for more troops in Afghanistan to fight a resurgent Taliban.
GOP presidential nominee John McCain missed both of those calls, Biden said. “Who has been right, and who has been wrong, on the big, big ticket items?” Biden asked.
He called McCain a longtime friend whose military service demonstrates “personal courage.”
“But we need more than a great soldier” for president, Biden said. “We need a wise leader.”
Biden said he was impressed with the oratorical skills of his GOP counterpart, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, at the Republican convention last night. But he said she failed to mention health-care, education or the middle-class in her remarks. Biden promised to challenge Palin’s views vigorously but not to engage in personal attacks.
Biden shared the stage with six military veterans and family members, including Louge Gunn of Virginia Beach, whose son Cherone was killed in the 2000 terrorist bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen. After his 30-minute speech, he introduced them and took questions from audience members.
Biden is the latest in a series of national political figures to campaign in Virginia, which some political experts consider winnable by either party for the first time in decades. The Hampton Roads area is home to several military bases and more than 111,000 military personnel.
Filed under: Presidentual Race 2008