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Disclaimer: The author of this site maintained the campaign weblog of John Kline's opponent in the 2006 election, which made Congressman Kline a bit testy.

As with all blogs, review the facts carefully and draw your own conclusions.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Kline Blasts Rowley, Insists He Supports Veterans

In response to a recent letter to the editor listing numerous votes John Kline has cast against the interests of veterans, Kline charges:

A Feb. 4 letter to the editor attempted to spin attention away from Coleen Rowley's campaign website posting of a doctored photo of me in a Nazi uniform. The letter was designed to give a false impression of my record on veterans' issues. It is interesting to note that the allegations were practically cut-and-pasted from Rowley's official campaign website.

In fact, I have repeatedly voted to increase funding for veterans' health care and benefits. In only three years in Congress, I have voted for an increase of more than 21 percent in total veterans' funding. I stood up to my party's leadership on several occasions to champion higher pay and benefits, and have received numerous letters from national veterans organizations such as the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America and the American Legion thanking me for my principled votes on behalf of veterans.

Not only am I one of only three active-duty career military veterans serving in the House of Representatives, but my wife, Vicky, is also a career veteran (an Army nurse for 22 years) and my son, Dan, is currently serving in the Army flying Blackhawk helicopters in Iraq. To suggest that I would turn my back on them, or any other veteran, is absurd and just one more additional outrage in what has become a reckless campaign of distortion, innuendo and falsehoods.

The rhetoric in this response is disappointing. Just last week, Kline was faulting Rowley for failing to run an issue-oriented campaign, yet when Rowley issues a press release documenting 11 of Kline's congressional votes, Kline tries to spin it as a reckless, outrageous distortion. Kline further insists on being as incendiary as possible, bringing up an issue for which Rowley has publicly apologized and which has no relevance to the campaign or the issue at hand.

But the most disappointing thing is how poorly prepared Kline's response appears to be. The Rowley press release was issued on February 2nd. Assuming Kline penned his letter on the 6th (two days ago), that means his staffers had four days to prepare a response. If we also assume that Kline's claim of supporting "an increase of more than 21 percent in total veterans' funding" is based on anything more than hot air, then the Kline campaign should be able to release a similar list of roll call votes so the public, the media, and wonks like me can weigh the competing claims.

Where is the list of roll call votes on which Kline bases his claim? A check of his campaign and congressional web sites reveals nothing. I called Kline's campaign office in Burnsville to ask for the list of votes; I was referred to his district congressional office. When I called the district congressional office, I was referred to his Washington office. When I called his Washington office, I was referred to a staffer, and told that staffer was in a meeting. I left a voice mail explaining what I wanted and why, and left contact info. I'm still waiting for a reply.

I admit it seems unlikely that Kline wouldn't support veterans, but right now Rowley has the facts on her side. I'll hold off judgement until Kline gets his act together.

What is even more disappointing than Kline's disorganized response is that, apparently, no one in the traditional media is calling him on it. It's an election year, and this is an issue voters care about. Are any reporters going to check the facts and let us know who's right and who's wrong?

If you're so inclined, contact Star Tribune 'Reader Representative' Kate Parry and --- very politely --- request that the Strib follow up on this issue.


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