McCain rebukes Obama over GI bill expansion issue

UNION CITY, Calif. (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful John McCain yesterday said that Democrat Barack Obama had no right to accuse him of political posturing on military scholarships because the Illinois senator did not serve in uniform.

“I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did,” the Arizona senator and Vietnam war POW said in a harshly worded statement issued yesterday.

At issue is an expansion of the GI bill that would guarantee full college scholarships for those who serve in the military for three years. The Democratic-led Senate passed the measure on a 75-22, mostly with Democratic votes, including Mr. Obama‘s. Mr. McCain campaigned and raised money in California.

Mr. McCain opposes the measure, as does the Pentagon, out of concern that providing such a benefit after only three years of service would encourage people to leave the military after only one enlistment.

“I can’t understand why he would line up behind the president in his opposition to this GI bill. I can’t believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans,” Mr. Obama said on the Senate floor of Mr. McCain. “There are many issues that lend themselves to partisan posturing, but giving our veterans the chance to go to college should not be one of them.”

Mr. McCain said: “If Sen. Obama would take the time and trouble to understand this issue, he would learn to debate an honest disagreement respectfully,” adding that the Illinois senator “always … prefers impugning the motives” of others.

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