Both Trump And Biden Campaign Events Court Veteran Vote In Arizona
Over the past few days, both the Trump and Biden campaigns held events targeted to Arizona’s 500,000 military veterans.
The traditionally conservative group is quickly growing as polarized as the rest of the national electorate, and both campaigns are seeing opportunities to win votes from members of the military, which makes up 10% of Arizona’s voting age population.
Vice President Mike Pence was in Litchfield Park on Friday to speak at a Veterans For Trump rally. While Pence touched on the Trump administration’s military spending and reforms to the VA, much of his remarks felt like a typical campaign speech.
“Four more years means more jobs," Pence said to cheers from the crowd. "Four more years means more judges. Four more years means more support for our troops. And it’s going to take at least four more years to drain that swamp.”
In the crowd was former Navy radioman John Cummuta, a Trump supporter eager to hear what Pence had to say. Cummuta acknowledged some of the problems facing the United States, including widespread racial injustice.
"I like good-old 'yankee-doodle-dandy, red-white-and-blue, apple-pie' America, but when we look back and say that was a great America to live in and grow up in, it wasn’t great for some of the minorities,” he said. "That absolutely positively needs to be eradicated."
He said reform was necessary — not the complete upheaval he feels Biden is calling for.
“Fix the country, that’s good," he said. "Redefine the country? I’m not into that. I'm proud of being American and I just don't want to see that eroded, and that's what I'm seeing happening on the other side.”
One hour before Pence was scheduled to speak, the Biden campaign hosted a virtual Veterans For Biden event, featuring Marine Corps veteran and former Republican Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley — a Biden supporter.
Romley and other speakers focused on the accusations levied in an article published in the Atlantic which accused President Trump of calling American servicemembers killed in combat "losers" and "suckers," as well as allegations earlier this year that Russia paid bounties to Taliban guerillas to kill Americans.
"I don’t care if it’s a Republican, a Democrat, and independent, I will never support an individual that does not have the empathy, the understanding towards those that serve and give their life for this country," Romley said.
Recent polls show the military and veteran community is split, roughly down the middle, about who they plan to support in November’s elections — so it’s likely that both campaigns will be targeting this new swing group even more.