RENO, Nevada — (AP) — Common sense, more than any campaign strategy, required Adam Laxalter not to brag about his military service in Nevada’s sometimes heated Republican Senate primary.
After all, the former attorney general, who served in Iraq as a naval judge and attorney general, is running against a retired army captain. Sam Brown, a war hero who was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, whose scarred face is more of a reminder of his sacrifice than his Purple Heart.
But with his former enemy now turned patriotic ally, Laxalter, the son of a US senator and grandson of another, is trying to make the most of his military career.
He relied on familiar Republican buzzwords to call on veterans to help save the country from the “left,” and called Democrats the “party of the super rich” in his attempt to oust Democratic senators. Catherine Cortez Masto.
In some cases, he’s also further leveraged his military experience — and Cortez Masto’s lack — to conservative issues ranging from U.S. border security to government overreach on issues like COVID-19.
He warned of the dangers of Afghan terrorists prematurely released from captivity sneaking into the United States and promised to rehabilitate service members who were released for refusing to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
These campaign questions resonated with many around candidates like Laxalter, backed by former President Trump, and on the Western battlefield, which Republicans see as their move to blue the Senate One of the best opportunities for a seat to turn red.
“First and foremost, there is no substitute for service. We all know that,” Laxalter said recently at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, where he and Brown offered free hot dogs. “Obviously, Sen. Masto hasn’t served yet.”
It’s a phrase he couldn’t use in a debate with Brown, who denounced Laxotel as part of Washington’s “elite” establishment during the primary.
Laxalt – grandson of a former US senator. and the Governor of Nevada. Paul Laxalt, son of a former senator. Pete Domenici, RN – He spent most of his early years in Washington, D.C.
A graduate of Georgetown Law School, a former assistant law professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, he served with the JAG Corps in Iraq, but did not take part in the kind of field battle Brown saw with the 1st Infantry in 2008.
At VFW, Laxalt was introduced by the former commander of the B-2 test squad, who created a potentially embarrassing moment when he mentioned Laxalt’s role in the military, before the room eventually burst into laughter.
“I’ll forgive him for being JAG,” the Air Force colonel said. Tony Grady said. “But, not really, because when I was a commander, the JAG was in my hip pocket and kept me out of trouble.”
Brown never claimed his military record surpassed Laxalter’s, but he did make a veiled reference to how everyone got there during the primaries.
“I wasn’t born to be in power,” Brown said in his first ad, describing the “nearly killed me” Taliban bomb as soldiers dragged his burning body to safety under mortar fire place, and his subsequent 30 surgeries.
Each campaign ends with the same catchphrase: “Career politicians can’t fix Washington; they break it.”
Originally, the phrase was juxtaposed with photos of Cortez Masto and President Joe Biden, but it was later accompanied by photos of Cortez Masto and Laxalter.
Now, Brown is chanting Laxalter and imploring veterans of all political stripes to rally behind him.
“As Republicans, what we do in the primary is determine who can lay down the most effective firepower and they become the primary effort,” Brown said. “Our duty is to go out there and be Adam Laxalter’s foot soldiers. .”
At VFW, Laxalt linked Cortez Masto to Democratic policies he said weakened the U.S. military, disrespected soldiers and made it less likely that young Americans would join the military. He got the biggest round of applause when he mocked those who “wondered why” the draft cut.
“Well, what about throwing service members away for refusing to take a COVID vaccine?” Laxalter said. “After 12 years of investment and 15 missions to scary places, we have SEALs. I have a guaranteed vote to restore these guys.”
Laxalt said he heard that Cortez Masto hadn’t had a town hall meeting with veterans in at least a year.
Not really, her campaign said.
Cortez Masto, whose father and grandfather served in the U.S. military, has hosted at least a dozen events with Nevada veterans over the past year “to make sure she hears their concerns” , and be able to provide the federal support they need,” her campaign said in an email.
Her accomplishments include approval for a National Veterans Cemetery in Elko that locals have sought for nearly a decade.
She helped pass a bill guaranteeing health and compensation benefits for veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Her legislation to protect veterans’ benefits for veterans has been signed into law, and one measure she supports is improving veterans’ access to mental health services.
As he did during the primaries, Laxalter reminded veterans that he, as Nevada’s attorney general, created the nation’s first state office for military legal services—a creation that the Pentagon eventually embraced, and several later The state has also adopted this approach.
He touted his work at the JAG in Iraq — where his legal team oversaw more than 20,000 detainees — and slammed the Biden administration for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan “leaving billions of dollars for potential terrorists” arms”.
He said the “Afghanistan fiasco” marked the first time the Americans had “acted against the commander-in-chief and knew he was not up to the job.”
“Sen. Masto didn’t hold him accountable,” Laxalt said. “Terrorists released in Afghanistan could actually be in this country today. It’s a big issue, and Sen. Masto is silent about it.”
Cortez Masto insists she has overturned Biden’s approach to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan after criticizing Trump’s proposal to withdraw troops without a plan.
She is highly rated by Ross Bryant, a retired military veteran who is the executive director of the UNLV Military and Veterans Services Center in Las Vegas.
Bryant describes himself as a moderate Republican who votes for candidates from both parties. He was delighted when veterans were elected to Congress, acknowledging that the veterans community was “very harsh at times: ‘If you’re not a veterinarian, you don’t know what it’s like.'”
He said that as attorney general, Laxot “did a great job for us” and that Brown’s support should carry some weight: “He’s hurt, he’s one of us.”
But, he said, it would be wrong to paint Cortez Masto as a staunch, effective advocate for veterans. He laid out a list that includes expanding Agent Orange coverage to toxic burn pit exposures, forcing federal agencies to set up booths at UNLV’s senior job fairs, and reversing the benefits formula during the COVID-19 pandemic that would go a long way. A $9 million reduction in veterinary benefits only applies to remote students at UNLV.
“At the end of the day, she’s delivered. She’s been our rock star,” Bryant said.
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