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Conservative vets group goes after Barack Obama in California

September 30, 2008 |  8:22 pm

California hasn't been in play in a presidential election for 20 years. Barack Obama almost surely will capture the trove of 55 electoral votes Nov. 4.

But that's not stopping the conservative Vets for Freedom, which claims to be the largest group representing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, from stirring things up. Bolstered by $2.2 million, the group plans to air television ads starting today across California -- the Bay Area excluded -- denouncing Obama on national security issues.

ObamarenoFormer Gov. Pete Wilson, who is involved in the effort, said the ad is not specifically aimed at helping Republican John McCain. But "if people are persuaded by the ads, it can only help -- not just Sen. McCain but anyone else who shares this view," he said.

The so-called issue advocacy commercial, which doesn't mention McCain, opens with Obama smiling and reclining in an office chair. A voice intones:

"Barack Obama skipped 45% of Senate votes but did manage to show up to vote against emergency funding for our troops. . . .

"Obama was chairman of the committee overseeing the fight against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan but never held a single hearing. . . .

"Obama found time to make 45 trips to Iowa but only two trips to Iraq."

The ad urges viewers to tell Obama to support a Senate resolution commending the U.S. and its troops for undertaking the surge in Iraq, saying the gains are significant but not yet permanent. Lawmakers who favor a more rapid withdrawal from Iraq oppose the resolution.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt called the ad "a despicable distortion" of Obama’s record, adding that the Democratic nominee "has been a forceful advocate for our service members, passing legislation that ensured our wounded warriors receive the care and treatment they deserve."

Vets for Freedom refuses to identify those who gave the $2.2 million for the ad buy. Because it is a nonprofit corporation, Vets for Freedom is not required to disclose its donors. Nor is it required to disclose its 2008 spending until it files its tax returns next year, long after the Nov. 4 election.

-- Dan Morain

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP