Friday, August 15, 2008

U.S. soldiers have donated more presidential campaign money to Democratic Sen. Barack Obama than to Republican Sen. John McCain, a reversal of previous campaigns in which military donations tended to favor Republican White House hopefuls, a nonpartisan group reported Thursday.

Troops serving abroad have given nearly six times as much money to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign as they have to Mr. McCain’s, the Center for Responsive Politics said.

The results also are striking because they favored Mr. Obama, who never has served in the military. Mr. McCain meanwhile, is a decorated war veteran who spent nearly five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Arizona senator graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and had a 22-year career as a naval aviator.

Mr. Obama has opposed the war in Iraq and says he would withdraw combat troops within 16 months. Mr. McCain has been a steadfast supporter of the war, saying he would withdraw the troops only when conditions on the ground warrant it.

“Obama will work tirelessly to uphold this nation’s sacred trust with its veterans, to ensure they are not forgotten after they return home and he will provide our troops with the leadership they deserve, as well as the support they and their families need,” Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

Mr. McCain’s campaign played down the significance of the donations.

“John McCain has been endorsed by more retired admirals and generals than Barack Obama has military donors,” McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said.

“We feel confident that many U.S. troops stationed overseas will support John McCain in the election this fall, but we suspect most are too busy doing the important work of defending this country than to make political contributions,” Mr. Goldfarb said.

The report tracked donations of $200 or more. It found that 859 members of the military donated a total of $335,536 to Mr. Obama. Mr. McCain received $280,513 from 558 military donors.

Among soldiers serving overseas at the time of their donations, 134 gave a total of $60,642 to Mr. Obama while 26 gave a total of $10,665 to Mr. McCain. That was less than the amount received by Republican Ron Paul, who collected $45,512 from 99 soldiers serving abroad, the report said.

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