Bipartisan Group Of 106 Arizona Military Veterans Endorses Biden Ahead Of Veterans For Trump Rally
A bipartisan group of 106 military veterans from across Arizona signed a letter formally endorsing former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, the Biden campaign announced Wednesday.
The letter's release comes two days before Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to appear at a Veterans For Trump event in Litchfield Park. Both the Trump and Biden campaigns are increasing efforts to win votes from the state half-a-million military veterans, who make up about 10% of the state's adult population. The demographic had traditionally leaned Republican, but recent polling data shows the GOP is losing support among the active-duty and veteran community.
Some veterans that signed the letter pointed to specific policy disagreements with the current administration. Hollace Lyon, a retired Air Force Colonel who spent much of her career involved in strategic planning at the Pentagon, says that continuing President Donald Trump’s family separation policy could have unintended national security consequences in the coming decades.
“Ripping immigrant children away from their families, and putting them in cages — what are we doing when we do that? We’re creating a future generation of children who will grow up, when we send them back to their countries, and they’re going to hate the United States," she said. "This is a time bomb that’s sitting there for 20 years down the road.”
Other veterans, like former Army Captain Signa Oliver, pointed to a more deeply-held belief in the American political system as their reason for signing the letter. Oliver, who has also worked as a police officer, says the oaths she has taken forced her to act.
"Across the board, I think ... we share a common belief that the country must stand for the ideals that we say we stand for," Oliver said. "As veterans and military families, that is so deeply embedded in us that when we see our country going in a different direction, we have to say something. My oath didn't expire when I got out. It's still valid today."
The military and veteran voting bloc has traditionally been a safe group of voters for the Republican Party. While the majority of active-duty personnel and veterans tend to vote Republican, that number has been decreasing.
In a 2016 Military Times poll, then-candidate Trump led then-candidate Hillary Clinton by 20 points. In the most recent poll, released late last month, Biden leads the President by 4 points. With the group seemingly in play, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are trying to court its voters.
Pence will be in Arizona on Friday, speaking at a Veterans For Trump event in Litchfield Park. On Tuesday, the Biden campaign held an event with Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran and Democrat. Gallego recalled the anxiety he says his mother felt while he was deployed to Iraq — and that Biden can empathize since he is also a military parent.
"She did not want to look out the door and see Marines in their dress blues, because she knew that was bad news," Gallego said. "To have a president to empathize with what millions of family members feel can be a powerful thing."
The Trump Campaign says Friday's event will highlight "how the Trump administration has delivered on its promises to veterans and service members" and seek to categorize a Biden victory as a "return to the failed Obama-era policies."