SAN DIEGO (AP) — Arizona Sen. John McCain stumped for GOP Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina on Saturday, telling a crowd of military veterans that her Democratic opponent Barbara Boxer is the chamber’s most “anti-defense” lawmaker.
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee appeared at the Old Navy Chapel in Balboa Park three days after the Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee reaffirmed its endorsement of Boxer.
McCain told more than 100 cheering supporters that Boxer “wants to raise the white flag of surrender” and that she has sought to undercut the U.S. mission in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“Barbara Boxer is the most bitterly partisan, most anti-defense senator in the United States Senate today. I know that because I’ve had the unpleasant experience of having to serve with her,” he said.
McCain told reporters he was stunned by the VFW PAC’s decision to back Boxer. He noted there was a backlash from some VFW leaders and members, though the PAC on Wednesday reaffirmed its slate of endorsements.
“The PAC people get caught up into the Washington, kind of inside-the-beltway stuff,” said the former prisoner of war in Vietnam. “This is ridiculous, and I will never request nor accept an endorsement from the VFW PAC. I’m proud of my relationship with the VFW, but the VFW PAC is disgraceful.”
The VFW established the PAC in 1979, but it is operated separately. The PAC bases its endorsements on how lawmakers voted on specific issues of importance to veterans and members of the military.
Fiorina and McCain arrived at the rally in a motorcade of veterans riding motorcycles and leather jackets emblazoned with patches of American flags and veterans groups.
Fiorina, a former Silicon Valley executive who was an economic adviser to McCain’s presidential campaign, said Boxer was no friend of the military.
“Do we believe that it is our duty, our sacred duty, to always stand with those who have stood for us?” she told the crowd. “That is what is at stake in this election.”
Fiorina said Boxer has repeatedly sought to cut military spending and opposed increasing military pay. She said Boxer has voted against body armor, mine-resistant vehicles and other equipment, as well as funding to treat brain injuries.
The Boxer campaign released a list of military spending bills and other measures that the senator has supported, including funding to treat brain injuries and provide educational subsidies to veterans. She noted that Fiorina has criticized President economic stimulus package, which calls for a new hospital at Camp Pendleton and other military projects.
“Barbara Boxer believes our men and women in uniform deserve our thanks, respect and support, both while on active duty and when they come home,” said campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski. “For anyone to question Barbara Boxer’s support for our troops and our veterans is outrageous and false.”
(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)