Veterans Group Slams Political Ad That Attacks Vietnam Vet Who Lost His Arm

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Many Indiana voters received a mailer this week attacking state Rep. Jim Baird, a candidate for the GOP nomination to Congress, for raising gas prices that cost voters an “arm” and a “leg.” Veterans groups say the ad is offensive because Baird lost his left arm in Vietnam.

Citizens for A Strong America, a super PAC reportedly supporting Baird’s primary opponent Steve Braun, “has crossed the line,” according to With Honor, a non-partisan group supporting veteran political candidates.

“This piece attacking a candidate who lost his arm in the Vietnam War sinks to a new low. Clearly whoever created it and authorized it has no idea what sacrificing for your country means,” With Honor said.

Baird himself found the ad offensive to veterans.

“I think it’s disrespectful for the services and contributions that veterans have made, including myself, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they have done and what they’ve given and what freedoms that we enjoy in this country,” Baird said.

Braun and Baird are both running for GOP nomination in the 4th Congressional district, a seat left open by Rep. Todd Rokita, who is challenging Indiana Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly.

The 4th District has seven Republicans vying for the nomination and this isn’t the questionable attack ad associated with Braun’s campaign.

The charge that the PAC is associated with Braun comes from another veteran candidate for the GOP nomination, Diego Morales — the only candidate in the race supported by With Honor — who is the target of an attack ad from the mysterious PAC that many see as racist.

Braun and Morales, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, are thought to have the best chances of winning the May 8 Republican primary.

With Honor called on Braun to stop the PAC from such attacks, but the candidate said he had no involvement in the ads and didn’t think the ads were acceptable. “I strongly condemn the mailing, and I’m frankly disgusted by it. These Super PACs have no respect for any of us running,” Braun said in a statement. “This is the latest and most blatant example of how these Super PACs come out of nowhere and throw mud.”

The PAC’s mailer against Morales said “Diego doesn’t live here.” It could be a reference to the fact that Diego moved to the district shortly before filing to run for Congress, or an attack on his heritage — Morales emigrated from Guatemala in 1999. “Let’s send Diego back across town, where he actually lives!” the ad said.

Citizens for A Strong America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has raised $3.1 million for the 2018 midterms but so far has spent $641,000, according to federal campaign filings.

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Thomas Phippen