Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is taking aim at his rival party’s plans to cut military spending, which Sen. Barack Obama details in a 2007 video making its way around the Web.
The October 2007 video shows the Illinois Democrat telling the Caucus for Priorities, a liberal, anti-defense spending group, that he plans to cut “tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending” from the Pentagon’s budget, including the nation’s fledgling missile defense program.
“I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our investments in future combat systems,” Mr. Obama says in the video.
There is no mention in Mr. Obama’s current campaign Web site of his earlier plans to “cut tens of billions of dollars” in defense spending. Instead, he promises “to rebuild the military” for 21st-century tasks by increasing “our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines,” project U.S. sea power “by replacing aging ships” and “fully equipping our troops for the missions they face.”
In Virginia, Mr. McCain, who is trailing Mr. Obama, is running a TV ad aimed at the state’s large defense industry and military population that cites a call for a 25 percent cut in military spending by Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
“America’s safety depends on Virginia, and Virginia’s economy depends on our military,” the ad says. “But what would happen if Barack Obama wins? One of Obama’s top allies in Congress has already announced plans to cut our military by 25 percent. Twenty-five percent. What would that mean for your job?” the ad asks.
The Obama campaign Thursday called the McCain ad “dishonest and dishonorable,” and Mr. Obama, campaigning in Sarasota, Fla., said, “I will never hesitate to do what it takes to defend this nation. From day one of this campaign, I have made clear that we will increase our ground troops and our investments in the finest fighting force in the world.”
Mr. Frank told his home district’s South Coast Standard Times last week that the Democratic Congress would slash defense spending by 25 percent next year.
“We don’t need all these fancy new weapons,” the liberal lawmaker said at an editorial board meeting with the newspaper’s editors and reporters.
Virginia Sen. John W. Warner, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, on Wednesday said he was “completely shocked” by the remark.
Mr. Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, said that Mr. Frank’s comments showed Mr. Obama “would be in a constant arm-wrestling contest with Democrats like Barney Frank,” adding that such cuts would “weaken America” and destroy thousands of defense-related jobs in Virginia, whose economy benefits heavily from about $56 billion in defense spending this year.