U.S. Veteran Dispatch
February 02, 2007
Saying he's "more of a Reaganite than Ronald Reagan," a group of military veterans are backing the presidential candidacy of U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter, (R-Calif.)
Hunter has served 13 terms in the House representing the San Diego area, home to a major navy base, and was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He remains the ranking Republican member. Hunter announced his race for the presidency earlier this week in South Carolina.
Larry Bailey, a retired U.S. Navy Seal, is behind the push by his fellow veterans.
"Duncan has been a friend for 20 years," Bailey said. "He was in the 173rd Airborne Brigade (and the 75th Army Rangers), and saw some tough, tough times. He was an enlisted guy, and he received a Bronze Star."
Hunter has been ahead of the pack with his support for the military and national security, Bailey said.
"When it comes to safeguarding satellite intelligence for troops in Iraq -- the issue that prompted him to waylay the White House-backed bill -- he has an unusually personal interest," The Washington Post reported recently. Hunter's son, a Marine lieutenant who has served two tours in Iraq, phoned him from embattled Fallujah and 'told me to hang in there on the intel thing,' the congressman said in a (recent) interview. 'A lot of military people have told me that,' he added, but his accounts of his son, Duncan Duane Hunter, have proved especially moving to his House colleagues, several said."
"Fifteen years ago, Duncan asked if we should deploy our military on the border because he was so against illegal immigration," he said. "He's correct on social issues, stem cell research, abortion, economics - he's for a totally free market. His brother is a rocket scientist; his dad got his start raising cattle in the Shenandoah Valley (in Virginia), and then later moved to California and went into real estate."
Hunter not only was concerned about illegal immigrants, but he was the moving force behind building a fence to separate Mexico from the California border, said Mike Bradley, another veteran. Hunter was with Bradley in Florida on Feb. 1 to meet with vets and to do interviews on several Florida radio stations. He has been a frequent guest lately on Fox News Channel.
Border enforcement is one of Hunter's major priorities. In 1988, he authored legislation making the military the lead agency in illegal drug interdiction and was successful in obtaining military units for building roads and fencing along the U.S. in California. Over 40 miles of fencing and border infrastructure are standing today. Additionally, he pushed through legislation in 1995 to authorize an additional 5,000 border patrol agents in response to the Clinton administration's budget, which attempted to cut agency resources.
"They instantly cut down on drug smuggling, immigrant smuggling, illegal aliens - by 90 percent," Bradley said. "The fence was designed with three rows, but Hunter said to build it with two rows and see how it works. They had no breeches."
U.S. Veteran Dispatch Publisher Ted Sampley, a former Green Beret and Vietnam veteran, has placed his name and the endorsement of this Web site behind the Hunter campaign.
"He's conservative, pro-defense and his basic belief is that if you want peace, you have to pursue it through strength," Sampley said. "He knows what the American people want. We're trying to set up a 1-million-vet Web page for people to sign up for Hunter and declare their support."
Hunter's other legislative priorities include fulfilling promises to U.S. veterans, providing tax relief to America's working families, and continuing cleanup efforts at the New River and Salton Sea in Imperial County, which he previously represented for 20 years.
Hunter is a long time congressional supporter of America’s missing in action and their families. In 1987, he was one of 21 Republican congressmen who offered a 2.5 million dollar reward to be paid to any citizen or group of citizens of Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia who would deliver an American prisoner of war back into U.S. custody.
A Hunter's Warriors Web site also is on the way, Bailey said.
"The Web really enhances our ability to contact people," he said. "We're expecting a real groundswell. The Rolling Thunder guys are behind him, and we're working with another guy whose son was killed in Iraq and he wants to do a rally in Washington to counter (Jane) Fonda and (Cindy) Sheehan."
Hunter and his wife Lynne live in Alpine, Calif. They have two sons, Duncan Duane and Sam, and two grandchildren.