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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

GOP leader’s words on GIs dying in vain stir anger

CONCORD – Republican State Chairman Jack Kimball’s claim that the re-election of President Barack Obama would mean American military killed in action died ‘’completely in vain’’ touched off a firestorm of protest from some veterans groups Tuesday.

Kimball’s statement came at a Hillsborough County Republican Committee Flag Day picnic June 12 in Greenfield and came to light when the video was posted online.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m looking at what has happened. All that we treasure lost: people, the loss of life, people who are psychologically and physiologically damaged for life, the sacrifices of the families that supported them. All of this. And I wonder what we did,’’ Kimball declared.

‘’Look at who we put in the White House. You think about that and we realize the profound responsibility that we have this time. In my view, if we re-elect this man, all that all of the people fought and died for is completely in vain.”

Leaders of national and local veterans groups said they considered Kimball’s comments to be a cynical attempt to turn their service into a political talking point.

“Jack Kimball owes our troops and their families a deep apology,” said Ashwin Madia, an Iraq War veteran and interim chairman of VoteVets.org, which represents 100,000 servicemen in the U.S.

“He has attempted to trivialize their sacrifices in order to launch a partisan attack on their commander in chief. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the military did so in service to America, fighting for our values – the most important of which is our democratic system of government, where people freely choose our leaders. Kimball’s statement displays a deep ignorance of our military and contempt for our system of government. He should immediately apologize.”

Kimball said his critics are taking statements he made out of context and they were not in any way a political sleight to veterans.

“I’m proud to be a veteran, and I’m proud of every man and woman who has served this country in the military,” said Kimball in a statement to The Telegraph.

“These groups attacking me are twisting my words and are just fronts for the left wing. I reject left-wing policies, just like I reject this left-wing president. He has been a total failure, and he is taking this country down a path that will ruin us. I don’t want the great American experiment to be weakened by Obama’s radical agenda.”

Here is a link to a liberal blog that contains the full video of Kimball’s entire remarks, first posted on GraniteGrok, a NH conservative political blog: www.miscellanyblue.com/post/6693699197/kimball-military-deaths-in-vain-if-obama-wins-in-2012.

Michael Breen, vice president of the Truman National Security Project, a former Army captain and New Hampshire native, said Kimball should know better as a veteran of the Navy during the period of the Vietnam War.

For many years, Kimball has been a leader in an organized group of “greeters” who welcome back veterans when they return to the state at the Pease International Tradeport.

“It is disgraceful for a partisan official to claim that men and women are dying for party rather than their country,” Breen said in a statement. “Americans who put on the uniform in defense of their nation do so without regards to partisanship – we swore an oath to the constitution, not the president and certainly not a party. He needs to apologize.”

There were five other veterans who signed on to Breen’s statement including ex-Iraq War Army veteran John Thornton of Nashua.

The Truman National Security Project is a liberal leadership institute that recruits, trains and positions a new generation of progressive leaders in national security.

Kimball concluded his June 12 remarks by insisting the stakes in this presidential election couldn’t be higher.

“In 2012, we will decide if we become a socialist European-oriented country or we fight back,” Kimball added.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.