The Outagamie County Republican Women held a forum for the WI-8 candidates tonight. The questions were excellent and there was an intensity befitting the fact that we are only one week from the primary. There was one item in particular though that I think stood out from the rest and not in a good way.
While making a point regarding the war in Afghanistan, Terri McCormick turned to Roger Roth and said that she took exception with something Roth had said because she has relatives serving in Afghanistan and they weren't "lucky enough to be in a hangar," during their tours. For those who don't know, Roth served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, including three tours in Iraq.
If such a statement sounds bad when you read it here, I can only assure you it was worse to hear in person. The audience groaned and booed. Belittling the honorable contribution of military men and women who don't happen to be in the infantry is bad enough. To make this gaffe doubly stupid is the fact that on the point in question, McCormick had already won.
This particular exchange took place after all three candidates had an opportunity to answer the question of whether or not they would have voted for the recent Afghan war supplemental bill in congress. Roger Roth has stated elsewhere, and repeated tonight, that he would not have voted for this supplemental. A stance that is unusual to say the least among GOP primary candidates.
After this question had been answered by all three candidates, the next question was on education and went to Roth first. Roth spent most of the time for his answer on education re-hashing his position on the war supplemental quite passionately. He quickly added a brief response to the education question on the end of his answer. After this Reid Ribble answered the education question without addressing the war supplemental again.
Then McCormick got an opportunity to answer the education question, which she did, but then she pivoted toward Roth and launched into the war supplemental question again, including the line above that struck such a sour note with the audience.
As I mentioned, Roth's stance on the war supplemental means that he would not have voted to fund the troops in the field because of what he sees as a failing strategy being pursued by the Obama administration. I'm not convinced that this position will resonate with GOP primary or general election voters. Therefore, I don't see any reason why McCormick felt the need to bring this up again.
If asked, I suspect McCormick would argue that she is never one to shy away from a tough position. She would have been well advised in this case to shy away from remarks that demean the valuable service of many members of our military who serve in non-combat roles.
I am willing to acknowledge that given time to reflect McCormick, would likely not agree with her own remarks and that it was the pressure and time constraint of a live forum that contributed to her statement. She could take the first step toward proving me right and offer an apology to Roger Roth.