Politics & Policy

VoteVets.org and Toomey-Ahmadinejad Moral Equivalency

VoteVets.org a liberal veterans group based in Portland, Oregon, is launching a half million dollar literature drop across Pennsylvania in an attempt to tie Pat Toomey with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad, of course, is the same leader who presided over a brutal post-election crackdown in June 2009 that resulted in beatings and deaths of dissenters. Last week, Iran sentenced a dissident journalist to six years in prison. Ahmadinejad has also declared that “no homosexuals” exist in Iran.

VoteVets.org, working through it’s VoteVets Action Fund, is embarking upon what it describes as a “blistering” campaign to demonstrate to voters that Toomey and Ahmadinejad share a “common” desire to “keep America dependent on oil.”

One flyer declares:

“America’s addition to oil means we’re driving up world oil prices. And, every time the price of oil goes up by $1, Iran gets another $1.5 billion. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would like nothing more than to see us continue our thirst for oil. Career politician Pat Toomey seems all too happy to help him.”

The League of Conservation Voters, a unique co-sponsor, is partnering with VoteVets for the campaign.

Battle ‘10 spoke with Peter Hegseth, Executive Director of Vets for Freedom, a veterans group founded in 2005 by veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Hegseth served in Iraq in the 101st Airborne Division, where he was awarded the Bronze Star.

“We won’t [issue campaign response], because it’s not worth responding to,” Hegseth said of a potential counter-campaign to the VoteVets.org flyering.

“VoteVets is a political group masquerading as a veterans group. Let’s be clear. They have a small group of veterans who are bought and paid for by the Democratic Party to run hit ads” on specific issues, Hegseth said.

“They shouldn’t be seen as anything other than a political group.”

“The flyer has a lot of tough talk about how horrible Toomey is,” Hegseth said, but “they sounded alarm for retreat from Iraq before nearly any U.S. senator, and if you press them, they would advocate for getting out of Afghanistan, and doesn’t support the current strategy there.”

“It’s very disingenuous, and purely political.”

Hal Donahue, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and VoteVets.org Pennsylvania Representative, defended the literature campaign in speaking with Battle ‘10.

“We want to convince the veteran population and voting population across the state that Sestak is the guy to elect thanks to his record and knowledge of veterans issues.”

“On retirement benefits, healthcare, added support for the [Department of] Veterans Affairs, and the new G.I. bill,” said Donahue, Sestak is “changing lives.”

But when pressed about the inflammatory nature of the flyers, tying a former U.S. congressman to a foreign theocratic-dictatorship, Donahue demurred, saying simply, “supposedly it’s been tested.”

John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy and member of the 9/11 Commission, endorsed Toomey earlier this afternoon in Harrisburg. Lehman characterized VoteVets’ campaign as “desperate,” saying “it shows how worried Sestak must be to allow those kinds of single issue zealots to pitch in that way.”

“I can’t belive that’s going to help [Sestak’s] campaign,” he said.

“The really nice thing about the Toomey campaign,” Lehman continued, “is it’s one of the few not to go negative,” in the sense of “refusing to impugn [Sestak’s] motives. Toomey sticks to disagreeing on the issues.”

The Toomey-Ahmadinejad literature was, Lehman joked, “marginally better than having his picture next to Adolf Hitler.”

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