Dem Candidate to Veteran: Military Service Isn't Public Service

Twenty-four years in the military doesn't count as public service, at least according to Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran.

In a video that's gone viral online, Moran is heard telling a Democratic gathering earlier this month that his opponent, Republican Patrick Murray, is just another unqualified GOP candidate.

"What [Republicans] do is find candidates, usually stealth candidates, that haven't been in office, haven't served or performed in any kind of public service," Moran said. "My opponent is typical, frankly."

The trouble is, Murray is a retired Army colonel with 24 years of service--including combat in Iraq. The idea that such an extensive military record doesn't qualify as "public service" has left a sour taste in Murray's mouth.

"It is unconscionable to me how a member of Congress from a District with so many Veterans, who also sits on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, could make such shameful and offensive comments about the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform," Murray wrote on his campaign blog Friday."This kind of disrespect to our service members not only offends me, but is insensitive to the sacrifices made by our dedicated military families as well."

Moran responded Friday, telling local news outlet WJLA that he simply misspoke, and his constituents know that's not what he meant. The Murray campaign points out that the congressman had the same sort of explaining to do earlier this month, when he claimed an endorsement from the Disabled American Veterans Association and a high rating from the Military Officer's Association. The latter organization reportedly asked Moran to cease using its name in support of his campaign efforts.

The military community is not known for making political rebuffs; it was relatively quiet when Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal (D) was revealed to have exaggerated his service in Vietnam. But in a district that is home to hundreds of military families from surrounding bases--and the Pentagon--Moran's remarks may evince a rebuttal in a form much sharper than words on Election Day: votes.

Murray trails Moran by 13 points, according to a recent Murray internal poll.