GOP attacks veteran who won Bronze Star as not a 'real patriot'


More baseless Republican attacks during the closing weeks of the campaign season.

Republicans are smearing a Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota who served two duties in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star in the process, claiming he's not sufficiently patriotic.

The latest GOP swiftboating campaign is playing out in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, where Democrat Dan Feehan is running against Republican Jim Hagedorn to fill a vacated seat.

The Minnesota race is a hotly contested one, and is currently rated a "toss-up."

The son of a U.S. congressman, Hagedorn has never served in the U.S. military. But that's not stopping the GOP nominee from waging an ugly attack against Feehan, a U.S. Army veteran — much like Republicans smeared John Kerry's heroic military service when he ran for president in 2004.

It's just the latest in a series of vicious smears against veterans funded by national Republican groups.

In the new attack ad, Republicans try to claim that Feehan isn't a "real patriot" because he supported former quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he quietly knelt during the national anthem prior to the start of NFL games.

"Liberal Dan Freehan celebrated Colin's protest of the national anthem," the ad claims, wrongly suggesting Kaepernick was protesting the national anthem (he wasn't), or that Freehan "celebrated" it (he didn't).

A local Minnesota television station looked into the GOP attacks on Feehan's patriotism and concluded they were "deceptive, out of context and mostly false."

"We looked at all of the Feehan tweets about Kaepernick and the NFL protest, including retweets and his use of the hashtag #VeteransforKaepernick," local CBS affiliate WCCO reported. "In Minnesota, what Feehan supported was Kaepernick’s RIGHT to protest. Feehan tweeted: 'It is the precise use of freedom I fought for on foreign soil.'"

The Feehan campaign denounced the disgraceful smear, saying"This type of misleading attack does a disservice to the people of the first district and quite frankly, is an affront to the service of veterans everywhere who fought for these freedoms."

Veterans advocacy group VoteVets also slammed the false attack, hitting back at the GOP for exploiting veterans as a political strategy.

"This is nothing but a baseless and shameful attack on a combat veteran," VoteVets Chair Dan Helmer said in a statement. "For a party that claims to care about veterans, Republicans sure do spend a lot of time attacking us."

Ironically, the attack ad uses an image from 9/11 to question Feehan's patriotism, even though it was that traumatic terror attack from 2001 that prompted Freehan to join the ROTC as a student, and to then go fight in the Iraq War.

In Iraq, he earned Bronze Star for Service, and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.

By contrast, Republican Hagedorn has spent most of his adult life working for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

According to Hagedorn's bio, the greatest "risk" he faced was when he "crafted an appropriations provision and worked with the Congress and interested parties, including unions, to prohibit the use of federal funds to merge the Bureau of Engraving and Printing into the United States Mint."

Daring stuff, indeed.