On Wednesday, the top three candidates for the Democratic nomination each separately promised that, if elected, their respective administrations would provide better health care for veterans. During an address to the International Association of Firefighters, Obama said that he is tired of politicians who are all talk when it comes to supporting the troops. “They don’t do anything except slap a yellow ribbon on the back of their SUV. When our veterans come home, I don’t want them forgotten in run-down buildings,” the Illinois senator said.

The firefighters union invited both Democratic and Republican candidates to address their members all of the major candidates from both parties attended, except Rudy Giuliani, who has been feuding with the union since after 9/11. “We have got to stand by the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States of America, including many heroes in this room,” John Edwards said. Sen. Hillary Clinton described herself as heartbroken over the conditions in building 18 at Walter Reed. She also expanded her message to include a proposal for better health care for fire fighters and police officers. Clinton accused the Bush administration of failing to provide for the fire fighters. Mrs. Clinton said, “It’s great for photo ops, but how about taking care of the people who have taken care of us across the country.”

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) seemed to sum up the collective feeling in the room when he said, “Our veterans deserve the very best medical care this country can provide. That ought to be something that every one in America can come to terms with, that that couldn’t happen here in the United States.” Sen. John McCain decided not to address the veterans’ health care controversy; instead he spoke in defense of the Iraq war. “The war has not gone well. We failed early on to recognize that we faced an indigenous and foreign insurgency in Iraq.” McCain went on to defend Bush’s Iraq strategy and say that progress was being made.

McCain’s choice of topics was a little odd, when one factors in the public opinion of the war, and the fact that the International Association of Firefighters has over 1,000 of its members fighting in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The reception his comments received from the firefighters was noticeably quieter than any of the Democratic speakers received. This war is not popular, so if McCain wants to be president, he either needs to stop talking about it, or change his position on it. I think that it is strange that McCain, as a veteran, did not speak about veterans’ health care. As a decorated veteran himself, McCain would have a great deal of credibility on this issue, but with speeches like the one he gave today, it almost seems like McCain is trying to lose his party’s nomination.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse 

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