Veterans, Congressmen Who Back Bush Fire Back At Kerry

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:22pm EDT

( - Shortly after former Sen. Max Cleland called on President Bush Wednesday to repudiate the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads which criticize Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a group of veterans and congressmen unveiled a letter written to Kerry criticizing his voting record on issues affecting the military.

The letter, signed by Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), as well as several veterans, tells Kerry he "can't have it both ways."

"You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it," the letter stated.

They also pointed out that Kerry voted against funding for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after voting to send them into battle.

"We are very proud of all of them and believe they deserve our full support," the letter stated.

"And that's why we are so concerned about the comments you made AFTER you came home from Vietnam. You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities - and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions," they wrote.

"You said in 1992 'we do not need to divide America over who served and how.' Yet you and your surrogates continue to criticize President Bush for his service as a fighter pilot in the National Guard," they added.

The veterans and congressmen praised President Bush for increasing the VA health care budget more than 40 percent since 2001, "in fact, during his four years in office." They pointed out that Bush increased veterans funding twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years.

"And he's praised the service of all who served our country, including your service in Vietnam," they wrote.

"We urge you to condemn the double standard that you and your campaign have enforced regarding a veteran's right to openly express their feelings about your activities on return from Vietnam," the letter concluded.

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