Sunday, November 2, 2014

Upset! War hero suddenly threatens to unseat Dem senator

Upset! War hero suddenly threatens to unseat Dem senator
Colonel calls out lawmaker who moved to England 'to avoid service in Vietnam'

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. (left), and Col. Allen Weh (right)
Greg Corombos
While Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is on the ropes in his bid for re-election, his cousin, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is now trying to fend off the momentum of retired U.S. Marine Corps Col. Allen Weh, who is near or within the margin of error in the latest polls.

Just a week ago, Udall led Weh by 16 points. Since then, an Albuquerque Journal survey shows a seven-point race (50-43) while a Vox Populi poll released Monday suggests a 47-43 Udall lead. Weh said another poll has the margin down to two percentage points, and there are good reasons for the 11th-hour momentum.
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Allen Weh (Ret.)

“We’ve presented a sharp contrast to Tom Udall. It’s been done based on his record. I’ve made no personal attacks on the man and don’t intend to and don’t have to,” said Weh, citing the economy, health care, national security and “other lesser-related issues in New Mexico” as the areas of sharpest difference.

“On every one of those, Tom Udall’s on the wrong side of the issue,” he said. “He cast the deciding vote for Obamacare that stripped $716 billion out of Medicare, and that’s starting to hurt seniors right now as we speak. That was a train wreck. He made it worse.”

On the economy, Weh said the two couldn’t be more different because they come at issues like economic growth and job creation from opposite directions.

“He’s been a career politician,” he said. “He’s never created a job or saved a job in his life. I created a business, and I can relate to that and I can relate to helping stimulate our economy and what it needs to have done to do that.”

However, Weh may be most frustrated with Udall’s performance on national security issues. Weh is a retired United States Marine Corps colonel who was awarded a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts and five Air Medals among other honors for his heroism in combat. Weh, 71, served the nation in uniform in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Somalia and the Iraq War. He is appalled by Udall’s foreign policy and military records both personally and professionally.

“On national security, no contest,” he said. “He’s never served in uniform a day in his life. In fact in 1970, when he graduated from college, he decided to go to England to avoid service in Vietnam. That may not matter to a lot of people, but I’ll tell you what. It matters to a whole lot of Vietnam veterans.”

This is the arena Weh sees himself having the greatest and most immediate impact if elected to the Senate. He believes President Obama needs to get congressional authorization for a long-term military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, but first he says the U.S. needs a real plan to win.

“We don’t have a comprehensive strategy. The national command authority, the president, has not woken up to the fact that this is an existential threat to the United States and acted accordingly. He’s dealing with it almost in a way to just make it go away,” said Weh, who accused Udall of marching in lockstep with Obama.

“Unfortunately, my opponent, Tom Udall, votes with him 94 percent of the time and on matters of national security hasn’t broken with him. So when the president’s failed leadership, or leading from behind at best, Tom Udall’s never had the political courage to step up and say, ‘Hey Mr. President, you’re the commander in chief. You’ve got to do what’s right to keep America safe and America’s families safe.’ He hasn’t done that,” Weh said.

The 26-year Marine Corps veteran said his voice is badly needed in the Senate.

“That particular part of my life is going to be put to good use. Right now, there’s only one combat veteran in the United States Senate (Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.). If I’m elected, I’ll be one of two or three,” said Weh, referring also to Iraq War veteran Tom Cotton who is the GOP nominee in Arkansas.

“That’s not a whole lot of men who’ve had that experience,” he said.

Another national security flashpoint also happens to be in New Mexico’s backyard as the debate over border security and immigration reform continues in both parties. Weh describes the borders as porous and directly blames the president for allowing it to happen.

“We’ve got to secure the border, and that’s the responsibility of the executive. This executive, this president, this administration does not want to secure the border or else it would have or it could have,” said Weh, who sees one decision above all others hindering border security and another instance of Obama and Udall seeing eye to eye on key policy.

“When Barack Obama took office, he suspended construction of the remaining fence that had been authorized in 2006, which by the way, when in the House of Representatives, my opponent Tom Udall voted against,” he said.

The colonel said the U.S. need only look to the Middle East to see the impact a fence can make on security.

“The fence is necessary in those built-up urban areas, much like the fence has been very effective in Jerusalem to prevent terrorists from coming into Israel,” he said. “The border as it is now is essentially porous simply due to the decisions and actions of this administration.”

The Udall campaign is returning fire on a number of issues. Like most Democrat candidates this year, Udall is accusing Weh of waging a war against women. In addition, he is hammering the GOP nominee for suggesting he was fine with a $4 minimum wage and alleging Weh is hostile to working families.

Weh said that line of attack is a clear distortion of the truth. He calls it “gotcha politics” and said he is actually taking an innovative approach to the issue by pushing an increase in the minimum wage for Americans 26 years and older but eliminating it altogether for those younger.

“The traditional party line of Republicans is we’re opposed to the raise,” Weh said. “I said I’m not opposed to raising the minimum wage. It hasn’t been raised in six to seven years. Cost of living has gone up. We ought to raise it. But in exchange for that, I’d want a two-tiered system. We’ve got a terrible youth unemployment problem in this country. It’s particularly bad in New Mexico. Twenty-four percent of Hispanic youths are unemployed. When you have that kind of condition, what you get is a sharp rise in juvenile delinquency and crime.

“So instead of a kid having a job, if he gets involved in juvenile delinquency in a criminal act, he’s got a strike against him for life instead of a hand up. In that context, I said, ‘So what if he’s working at Burger King for four bucks an hour? He’s got a job and he’s off the streets and out of trouble and he’s learning something,’” said Weh, who believes this episode raises even more questions about Udall.

“They had a tracker recording me in that group and then they took that little sound bite and they made an ad on it,” Weh said. “That’s the problem of politics today. I challenged him yesterday in the debate. He brought that up. I said, ‘Tom, why don’t you engage in a conversation? Why don’t you be constructive in a dialogue to solve the teen unemployment problem? All you care about it gotcha politics.’”

Weh said New Mexico may be a blue state, but it’s not a deeply liberal state, adding that the Democrats there are blue-collar, gun-owning types who have elected Republicans to the Senate and the governor’s mansion in recent years.

As for a final message, Weh hopes the people of his state relate to him, his story and his vision.

“I’m a normal guy,” he said. “I came from a middle-class background, worked my way up and have enjoyed the American Dream. I want that opportunity for everybody, and I’m willing to go to Washington to put common sense to work.”

Sidley Austin LLP was the lobby firm for Vietnam.

Note: Michelle Obama was a lawyer at Sidley Austin LLP.
Barack Obama was an intern at Sidley Austin LLP, Madelyn Payne Dunham was his maternal grandmother, and Obamacare is his signature policy initiative.
R. Eden Martin is counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, and the president of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Newton N. Minow is a senior counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
W. James McNerney Jr. is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, and the chairman & president & CEO for the Boeing Company.
Madelyn Payne Dunham was an aircraft inspector for the Boeing Company, and Barack Obama’s maternal grandmother.
Barbara G. Fast was a VP at the Boeing Company, and a VP for the CGI Group Inc.
CGI Group Inc. was the Obamacare contractor that developed web site.
Donna S. Morea was the EVP for the CGI Group Inc., and a trustee at the Committee for Economic Development.
Foundation to Promote Open Society was a funder for the Committee for Economic Development.
George Soros was the chairman for the Foundation to Promote Open Society.
Kenneth M. Duberstein was the VP for the Committee for Economic Development, and is a director at the Boeing Company.
W. James McNerney Jr. is the chairman & president & CEO for the Boeing Company, and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
William M. Daley is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a trustee at the Third Way, was the chief of staff for the Barack Obama administration, and a director at the Boeing Company.
Ronald A. Klain is a trustee at the Third Way, and the coordinator of government Ebola efforts for the Barack Obama administration.
Mark Udall is an honorary co-chair for the Third Way, and a U.S. Senate senator.

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