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September 15, 2008

McClintock attacks Brown over anti-war protests

The Iraq war has subsided as a major campaign issue in most Congressional campaigns, but it has returned with a vengeance in California.

In a closely-contested House race to succeed retiring Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), Republican nominee Tom McClintock is accusing his Democratic opponent, Vietnam war veteran Charlie Brown, of participating in an anti-Iraq war protest while in uniform three years ago.

The McClintock campaign unleashes those charges in a new radio ad, featuring Deborah Johns, the mother of a Marine who has served two tours of duty in Iraq.

“I was so upset to see Charlie Brown at an anti-war protest where a soldier was hung in effigy. That’s no way to support our troops,” Johns says in the radio ad.

Brown has been a vocal opponent of the Iraq war, and it was a central message in his 2006 campaign when he nearly defeated Doolittle. But in a district where 17 percent of residents are military veterans, being seen as a strident anti-war protester could seriously hurt Brown’s prospects.

UPDATE: Brown spokesman Todd Stenhouse called on McClintock to "pull his misleading ad" and challenged him to donate the money spent on the ads to a charity for veterans.

"Charlie attended a highly publicized protest staged by pro Iraq war demonstrators in 2005 at the site of a controversial display at the home of an anti- War activist," Stenhouse said. "He talked with people on both sides of the issue and left. He wore a camouflage jacket, as did many attendees on both sides who were ex-military. "

"Like previous attempts to smear veterans by John Doolittle, McClintock’s radio spot is political sleaze designed to distract voters from his cowardly record on veterans issues."