Saturday 29 September 2007
Claremont, New Hampshire - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards criticized Rush Limbaugh on Friday for referring to some members of the military as "phony soldiers."
For his part, Limbaugh said he was referring only to one soldier recently convicted of lying about his service.
Edwards and the campaign of fellow Democrat Chris Dodd took issue with the radio talk show host's characterization of Iraq war veterans who have spoken out against the war. Limbaugh was responding to a caller who argued that anti-war groups "never talk to real soldiers."
"They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media," the caller said.
"The phony soldiers," Limbaugh responded.
Campaigning in New Hampshire, Edwards called on Republicans to denounce Limbaugh in the same way they came down on Democrats after the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org ran an advertisement criticizing Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
"All these Republicans went running to the mic and the TV cameras when MoveOn ran their ad about General Petraeus. Now let's see if they really mean it," Edwards said. "Let's see if they'll speak out against Rush Limbaugh. Let's see if they'll challenge him about men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States."
Dodd's spokesman, Hari Sevugan, also weighed in.
"It's ironic, if not remotely surprising, that Rush Limbaugh - who makes his living shooting his mouth off - would impugn the patriotism and service of American troops simply because they have voiced their opposition to this failed policy," he said in statement. "It's clear that he has no idea what the brave men and women of our armed forces are ostensibly fighting for."
In a transcript of Thursday's show posted on his Web site, Limbaugh said the comment followed a discussion of Jesse Macbeth, who was sentenced to five months in prison earlier this month for collecting more than $10,00 in benefits to which he was not entitled.
Macbeth, 23, of Tacoma, Wash., tried to position himself as a leader of the anti-war movement by claiming to have participated in war crimes when in fact he was kicked out of the Army in 2003 after six weeks at Fort Benning, Ga.
"He became a hero to the anti-war left. They love phony soldiers, and they prop 'em up," Limbaugh said Thursday. "I was not talking ... about the anti-war movement generally. I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment, Jesse MacBeth."