Seventeen Iraq combat veterans are running for House seats as Republicans, pledging to continue the war once in Congress and linking themselves to Sen. John McCain's candidacy for president.
As Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, prepares to go to Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss his record there, some of the vets also came to Washington to link themselves to the general whose 2007 troop surge they believe has improved America's prospects for victory.
• The Race: Seventeen Iraq combat veterans are running for House seats as Republicans in support of the U.S. effort.
• The Background: Democrats launched a slate of veterans in 2006 who used their military credentials to argue against the war with some success.
• The Bet: The Republican veterans believe what helped Sen. McCain could help them.
In 2006, the Democrats had some success with a slate of veterans who used their military credentials to argue against the war. The Republican veterans argue that such antiwar vets are the exception and, even though the public is still against the war, they will be able to make the case that the country is succeeding and should commit the resources to achieve victory.
"Iraq's going to be a tough issue for everybody, but we're going to be uniquely positioned to deal with it," says former Marine Cpl. Keiran Lalor, a Republican running in the Hudson Valley of New York. "The Democrats went around and found the exception to the rule: They found the Iraq vets against the war."
The Republican vets have linked themselves to Sen. McCain's presidential bid and hope to ride to victory on his coattails. They hope that if independents decide to support Sen. McCain and his commitment to finish the job in Iraq, they will vote that way down-ballot as well.
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