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Boxer highlights endorsement by VFW PAC

Accenting again the campaign focus she has placed on veterans' affairs, Sen. Barbara Boxer on Sunday formally opened a veterans' center at Pasadena City College and was later brought to tears by a forceful defense of her record by Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii,  a highly decorated member of Congress.

Inouye joined Boxer for her formal endorsement by the political action committee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, whose California chairman also praised Boxer's work on behalf of veterans.

Inouye described Boxer as a senator who operated not through working the rules but through exercising "heart." He said she had been instrumental in establishing a combat care facility in San Diego and working on  other veterans' matters.

Inouye--a Japanese  American who served in the legendary 442nd regiment in World War II, losing his right arm in combat--also cited Boxer for her work in establishing a national historic site at Manzanar, the Central California internment camp where Japanese Americans were forcibly moved during WWII.

At that, Inouye broke into tears and said "America needs Barbara." Boxer grew emotional herself, and she later said she was "touched and moved."

In her remarks, Boxer mentioned only briefly her reelection contest with Republican Carly Fiorina.

"There are huge differences about the economy, about budget priorities about what we need to move our nation forward," Boxer said.

"I want to go back [to Washington] to continue my fight for the people who need my voice. Veterans are one. Seniors is another group. Workers, middle class. So many people I fight for every single day."

As Boxer spoke, a few dozen protesters chanted outside the PCC meeting room where she spoke, repeating "Don't Call Me Ma'am"--a reference to Boxer's request years ago that an Army Corps of Engineers general call her by her title rather than "ma'am" in a hearing.

Fiorina has been critical of Boxer’s record on military issues, including Boxer's vote against a military spending bill that Boxer opposed because she said it did not outline a clear exit strategy from Iraq. On Sunday after speaking at a civic affairs conference hosted by the Iranian American Jewish community in Century City, Fiorina said the VFW PAC had  “lost a great deal of credibility because they’ve demonstrated once again that all they ever do is endorse incumbent politicians.”

“There are a great number of veterans who are offended by Boxer’s refusal to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Fiorina told reporters Sunday. "There are veterans who are offended by the way she dressed down a general, and there are, unfortunately for the VFW PAC, now a whole lot of veterans who are offended by the decision the VFW PAC has taken.”

Fiorina’s campaign also released a statement by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other military veterans, objecting to the VFW's endorsement of her. (McCain is campaigning for Fiorina).

Asked after her speech about McCain's objection, Boxer merely smiled and replied: "I'm so excited to have the VFW endorsement. I couldn't be more thrilled."

--Cathleen Decker

 
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