Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, struggling for attention in the Republican presidential race, attacked fellow veteran and GOP rival Sen. [crscore]Lindsey Graham[/crscore] of South Carolina for “dishonoring the uniform.”
Gilmore’s frustration, expressed in a Friday news release describing himself as “dismayed, but determined,” is that Graham and his supporters keep referring to the South Carolina senator as the only veteran in the race, even though Gilmore also served in the military.
“By making these false statements, he is dishonoring the uniform and others who have served,” Gilmore said.
“America’s veterans are offended by those who embellish their own service and disrespect the service of others,” he added.
Gilmore is an Army veteran and former intelligence agent.
Graham is a retired U.S. Air Force lawyer.
While Gilmore participated in the first undercard debate hosted by Fox News, he has not been invited to other debates because of his low poll numbers.
Gilmore has taken issue with how a super PAC supporting Graham, Security is Strength, has run an ad referring to Graham as the “only veteran in the field.”
“It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day,” Christian Ferry, Graham’s campaign manager, said ahead of this week’s debate, which Graham did not qualify to participate in.
During a recent trip to New Hampshire, Graham spoke of his military service and said: “The difference between me, and others, I think, is that I’ve actually seen the enemy and understand what they’re up to.”
Earlier this week, the campaign blasted out an endorsement announcement from Iowa State Senator Tim Kapucian who said: “As the only remaining veteran in the race, Lindsey is going to be a strong voice for those Americans who have been fighting for our freedom and deserve a Commander-in-Chief who can implement a strategy that can win.”
“I demand that he and his political action committee stop making these kinds of silly, untrue statements that seem to be an attempt to embellish his service,” Gilmore said. “They are not helpful to his campaign and they are disrespectful to those who have served.”
“As veterans, we both need to be spending our time working to address the many concerns and challenges the veterans across our nation are facing today including a dysfunctional Veterans Administration, endless red tape, subpar health care and inadequate benefits,” Gilmore said.
Earlier this year, The Daily Caller wrote about how most candidates running for president this year do not have a military background. Republican Rick Perry, a veteran, has dropped out of the contest, and Democrat Jim Webb, another veteran, left the Democratic primary but is considering running as an independent.
Graham told TheDC then his background as a veteran is an asset in the race.
“You get to walk in the shoes of the people who you’re going to be in charge of,” Graham said of a president with military experience. “So that’s all good. It doesn’t mean you have to be in the military to be a good commander-in-chief. But I think having that experience is a positive.”
[This post has been updated to fix and include quotations about Graham’s military service.]