WASHINGTON – Speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party, an Iraq combat veteran said Saturday that apparent GOP nominee John McCain should not win the presidential election because he would continue the war in Iraq.
Roger Martinez, who served as an Army ranger in Afghanistan and Iraq, noted in the Democrats' weekly radio address that President Bush endorsed McCain this week. Bush said McCain "won't flinch in the face of danger" and McCain strongly supports the U.S. efforts in Iraq. Electing a leader who would continue Bush's policies in Iraq would be a mistake, Martinez said.
"Our country and our armed services cannot afford another leader like President Bush who would keep our overstretched military in Iraq for 100 years while ignoring the other threats our country faces both at home and around the world." McCain has said that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for many years if those troops were no longer being injured or killed.
"I honor and thank John McCain for his years of military service to our country," said Martinez, who is studying at the University of Texas at San Antonio. "But I don't think he offers the right leadership on Iraq or understands how to reinvigorate our economy here at home."
Martinez said U.S. troops are fighting bravely, "but no matter what they do they cannot solve the political problems in Iraq." The next commander in chief needs to promise to make the fight against al-Qaida in Afghanistan a greater priority than the war in Iraq, Martinez said.
McCain has acknowledged that he must convince voters of the wisdom of defense of the Iraq war, and the increase of troops that has improved conditions there.
The Arizona senator has said that both leading Democrats in the presidential race want to abandon Iraq to al-Qaida.
Martinez said McCain also is out of touch with families like his own.
"He says the economy is strong but how can he not see that families like mine are struggling to pay for out-of-control health care costs, home heating bills, gasoline and college tuition," Martinez said.
McCain, who has said economics isn't his strong suit, said Friday tax cuts and job training are needed to lift an economy that is either in recession or is headed toward one. He was responding to a report showing widespread job losses amid the housing and credit crisis.