The Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee refused to rescind its candidate endorsements Wednesday, despite outrage from some veterans that its picks failed to represent the VFW’s 1.5 million members.
VFW officials said hundreds of members have contacted the organization’s national headquarters in recent days to complain about the endorsements by the PAC, which operates separately from the veterans group.
The protests particularly were heated regarding two Democratic endorsements: Sen. Barbara Boxer over Republican Carly Fiorina in California, and Rep. Ron Klein over Republican and Iraq war veteran Allen West in Florida.
The fervor spurred a Tuesday letter by VFW Commander in Chief Richard L. Eubank and two vice commanders asking the PAC to withdraw all endorsements for the Nov. 2 congressional elections because the situation was having a “detrimental impact on the organization.”
“Our recent endorsement process unintentionally provided favoritism to the incumbents,” the letter said. “It is now evident it was unfairly skewed and actually subverted that process.”
Member fervor has been fanned by Web blogs oriented to veterans, some of which have taken issue with the PAC’s position of endorsing some candidates without military service over candidates who have served.
But the PAC board of directors said Wednesday they weren’t backing down and that its method for choosing candidates this year was the same as in prior years.
The PAC said it based its endorsements on how lawmakers voted on issues of importance to veterans and members of the military. The criteria meant that, in some of the 356 races in which the board made endorsements, incumbent lawmakers were chosen over challenging veterans - some who are even VFW members.
“It would not only be unfair, but contrary to VFW-PAC [bylaws] to disregard the incumbent’s record of support and endorse another candidate,” said the PAC board in a prepared statement.
“The VFW-PAC will not abandon those in Congress that have supported issues of critical importance to our nation’s security and veterans.”
VFW spokesman Jerry Newberry said the group will have a response to the PAC’s decision to stand by its picks on Thursday.
Mr. West, who is backed by the conservative “tea party” movement, has launched outspoken attacks against his Democratic opponent, calling him a “cretin,” “inept,” and “a pathetic liberal.” The Republican has been rebuked for his attacks on Islam, which he has called a “a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology” and “not a religion.”
Mrs. Boxer has been at odds with some veterans since last year when she chided a military officer at a Senate hearing for calling her “ma’am” instead of “senator.”
This article is based in part on wire service reports.