Clinton touts Iowa veterans’ support; Trump offers new military plan

September 8, 2016

DES MOINES | A group of 54 Iowans who are veterans of military service have announced their support for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

They will serve on a new Iowa Veterans and Military Families for Hillary leadership council that was unveiled Wednesday.

Council members include former Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell of Davis City, retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Cumming, at least nine current and former state legislators and the 2016 Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district.

The Hillary for Iowa organization announced the list on the day Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump were to participate in a commander-in-chief forum on NBC and MSNBC focusing on national security, military and veterans’ issues. An NBC News/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll showed Trump leads Clinton by 19 points — 55 percent to 36 percent — among voters who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military.

Both candidates have contended the other is unfit to be the nation’s commander in chief during campaign speeches in recent weeks.

On the campaign trail Wednesday, Trump laid out several proposals designed to update and upgrade America’s military, including asking top U.S. generals to present a plan to defeat and destroy ISIS within 30 days after he takes office.

Other ideas including asking Congress to eliminate the defense sequester and submitting a federal budget with money to rebuild the U.S. military, developing a state-of-the art missile defense system, modernizing naval cruisers, and conducting a thorough review of U.S. cyber defenses to identify vulnerabilities

In announcing the Iowa group Wednesday, Hillary for Iowa officials said Clinton has fought for veterans and military families throughout her career as a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, and has put forth a comprehensive plan to support veteran and military families as president.

“She knows that we are stronger when we work with our allies around the world to keep us safe, and has put forward real plans to deal with the threat of ISIS and broader terror threats,” according to the Hillary for Iowa statement.

Boswell, who spent 12 years in the U.S. House, 12 years in the Iowa Senate and more than 20 years in the U.S. Army -- including two tours of duty in Vietnam and two tours of duty on NATO assignments in Europe – said “America’s greatness requires diplomatic and military leadership within the complex world we live in.”

He said he is backing Clinton and believes the nation and the world will be best served by her experience and “steady hand to make the tough calls” from the moment she takes office. “She never backs down, she never gives up, and she’s a fighter who knows how to win the tough fights,” Boswell said.

In advance of the focus on security and military issues, Trump issued a letter Tuesday signed by 88 retired generals and admirals who support his candidacy. Clinton’s campaign countered by announcing the endorsements of 95 retired generals and admirals who back her presidential bid and pointed to Trump’s criticism of a Gold Star family and war veteran Sen. John McCain.

Included in the Hillary for Iowa news release was a statement from Marc Wallace of Des Moines, a U.S. Army Intelligence Corps and Iowa National Guard veteran who is serving on Clinton’s leadership council, contrasting Clinton’s readiness as commander in chief versus Trump’s qualifications.

“Trump is erratic, vindictive and thin-skinned,” Wallace said in the Hillary for Iowa statement. “He praises dictators, trash talks America and threatens to abandon our allies. His dangerous rhetoric and dangerous policy proposals play into the hands of terrorists. It’s not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican, but between a responsible leader like Hillary Clinton who will keep us safe, and a volatile man like Donald Trump who threatens our security.”

Locals included in the list of Iowa Veterans and Military Families for Hillary were Tim Hejhal, Osage, Iowa National Guard; Laura Hubka, Riceville, U.S. Navy; Stan Klein, Lu Verne, U.S. Army, Vietnam; and Todd Prichard, Charles City, Iowa National Guard, Operation Enduring Iraqi Freedom.

Comments: 515-243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com