Vetting McCain

Meanwhile, the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents workers in the Department of Veterans Affairs, is launching a national radio and Internet campaign this week to cast doubt on McCain's commitment to veterans' health care. In its radio ad (subscription), AFGE member and veteran Phil Glover lists a barrage of instances where McCain voted against VA funding. "McCain -- as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, you talk a good game, but vets need more. Your policies hurt those who answered the call but -- unlike you -- need the VA." The AFL-CIO's TV spot, which is running in six states including Ohio and Pennsylvania, also chastises McCain on this topic. "He even took sides with Bush against increasing health care benefits for veterans," Wasser says in the ad.

The AFGE did not launch its campaign in conjunction with the AFL-CIO's ad. Nonetheless, spokesman Michael Victorian reiterated both ads' messages. "We're not casting any shadow on the man's service, but it's what he's done as a legislator that we're concerned with," Victorian said. "It does not support the notion that he is the veterans' candidate."

Along with the one-minute radio spot -- which is airing in nearly 20 states, including the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Iowa -- the AFGE has also launched two Web videos that send similar messages.

The AFGE endorsed Barack Obama in the spring, and Victorian says he has high hopes for what the Democrat has promised. "We are very encouraged by Senator Obama. He said, and we believe, that he is going to advocate fully funding the VA," he said.

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