WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Sen Bob Dole is a leading advocate for war veterans and a longtime Republican ally of presidential candidate John McCain, but on Friday he sided with Democrat Barack Obama to endorse a bill the Arizona senator opposes to raise benefits for former soldiers.
The legislation passed by the Senate on Thursday is at the heart of a fierce spat between McCain and his Obama, the Illinois senator closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination. Obama questioned McCain’s commitment to veterans, while the Republican candidate blasted the Obama’s lack of military service.
“I’m for the concept … I probably would have voted for it, if we get the money,” Dole told the National Press Club in an appearance spiced liberally with his trademark political wit. He acknowledged, “I haven’t read it, which is not a requirement in Congress.”
The bill would increase education benefits for war veterans. Dole likened the current political battle to the one over the narrowly approved post-World War Two G.I. Bill, which generously funded college education and other benefits for soldiers and became wildly popular.
“I’m for it. That’s how I got an education,” said Dole, who was severely wounded in the war.