This New York Times story today profiled Iraq war veterans and their influence on the 2008 campaign, on either side. And that would include supporting Tom Manion, as noted below…
Three hours north and a few days later, another group of young Iraq veterans gathered at a bar in Philadelphia to help raise money for Tom Manion, a Republican Congressional candidate.
David Bellavia, 33, founded Vets for Freedom, a “pro-victory” group that has spent $6 million on television advertisements this year. Pete Hegseth, 28, is the group’s executive director. They both served in Iraq, and as is the case for many young veterans, loyalty to fallen comrades is the dominant force behind their decision to become politically involved.
When asked what motivated them, they spoke less of policy than people. “We lost 37 men in my unit,” Mr. Bellavia said, his voice rising with emotion. “That sacrifice is holy to me. All of them I knew and I loved.”
Tom Manion nodded with understanding. He is running against Patrick J. Murphy, a Democrat and the only Iraq veteran in Congress — one of the 30 or so who are pursuing seats in the House this year, up from about a dozen in 2006.
Mr. Manion has attracted Vets for Freedom partly because he shares the group’s “pro-mission” viewpoint. He is also a retired marine colonel, and the father of Travis Manion, a marine and Naval Academy graduate who was killed last April in an ambush in Iraq’s western province of Anbar.
Mr. Manion said he never would have become politically active were it not for his son’s death. “It made me realize that if I wanted to make a difference, it wasn’t enough to sit on the sidelines,” he said.
The last thing I intend to do here is give precious free space to Tom Manion, but I just wanted to note that, for someone selling himself as a Washington “outsider,” he seems pretty comfortable with the support of a “527” group (which is what Vets for Freedom is in the final analysis, a group that dovetails nicely with the human stains of Freedom’s Watch, as noted here; perfectly legal for Manion as far as I can determine, though).
And while I don’t recall any pledges from Manion about 527s, Oliver Willis notes here that a certain Republican presidential candidate rallied with Vets for Freedom, though he once vowed to get the FEC to “crack down” on 527 groups.
This is another reason why McBush needs to act on the advice John Kerry gave him here, though to be honest, it’s probably too late for that now anyway.