Sioux City’s Bud Day to McCain’s defense

The campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain asked retired Colonel Bud Day of Sioux City to rebut comments made this weekend by retired General Wesley Clark, an Obama backer.  The Politico’s Ben Smith has two posts to read on this topic.  First, a bit of the conversation Smith had with Day (Day was a member of the Swift Boat group who attacked John Kerry’s military record in 2004),  Second, Smith has John Kerry’s response.

As you may recall, Day was a prisoner of war with McCain.  McCain credits Day with saving his life.  (If you click on that link, there’s a piece of audio there featuring McCain & Day, together, talking about their "Hanoi Hilton" experience.)

UPDATE:  On Tuesday at 5:26 p.m., the Iowa Republican Party sent out a statement about this dust-up. (Yes, over a day later. Remember, the McCain campaign went after this again today.)  Read the Iowa GOP release after the jump. Note the reference to Senator Tom Harkin’s comments.

(Des Moines) – Recent comments by General Wesley Clark (Ret.), an Obama campaign surrogate and advisor, are not sitting well with many veterans, including Iowa native Colonel Bud Day. 

In a conference call Monday, Col. Day refuted Gen. Clark’s statement that “riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down” is not “a qualification to be president.”

“I, too, was quite astonished with this unworthy remark made by Wesley Clark against one of my great warriors,” Day said.  “This backhanded slap against John of not being a worthy warrior because he just got shot down is one of the more surprising insults in my military history.”

The expression ‘takes one to know one’ is given new meaning when Col. Day speaks about great warriors.  Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Col. Day is the most decorated American service member since Gen. Douglas MacArthur, having received nearly 70 decorations and awards including more than 50 for combat.  Col. Day is also personally close to the matter as he shared a cell with John McCain in Hanoi and spent 87 months as a prisoner of war.

Controversy has erupted beyond Gen. Clark’s remarks as many pundits speculate that this attack, and those of other high profile Obama supporters, are signs of a coordinated effort to discredit John McCain’s military service.

In May, Iowa’s own Senator Tom Harkin told reporters that McCain’s views come “from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”

“This pattern of attacking John McCain’s sacrifice for his country is very disturbing to me, as both a citizen and a veteran,” said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Stewart Iverson.  “I would hope that Sen. Obama has enough courage to denounce these remarks for what they are – a cheap stunt to misinform voters.”

Col. Day concluded Monday’s call saying, “I am astounded that a person who represents a presidential candidate would be involved in this kind of a political shenanigan against a man of John McCain’s character.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.