Former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton campaigned Thursday, asking military families what they want to tell Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton they need most.
Holton, wife of Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, is the latest campaign surrogate to blitz the Miami Valley in a tight presidential race in Ohio between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Facing a crowd of about 50 supporters, Holton, the mother of a son in the Marine Corps, appeared in a roundtable with a former Air Force fighter pilot and two mothers who had sons deploy in combat to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Clinton would help veterans make the transition to civilian life easier and work to expand educational benefits for their families, Holton said.
She said Clinton, a former secretary of state, advocates a strong military and building alliances to secure peace.
“It is about working with folks around the world so our military is our last resort not our first resort,” Holton said. “…I’m ready to trust Hillary with … my son’s life and your young people’s lives. We can’t afford to have somebody else in that role.”
Both Clinton and Trump have received the endorsement of dozens of prior military leaders.
Seth Unger, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in an email Thursday: “Mr. Trump is respected by military leaders because he has a plan to rebuild our depleted military and defeat radical Islamic terrorism. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine use harsher words to demean veterans and law enforcement officers supporting Mr. Trump than they do to describe radical Islamic terrorists, and they have no plans to keep America safe.”
Rachel Magdalene, 63, the mother of an Army soldier who deployed four times to Iraq and who she said has faced health and other issues in civilian life, backed Clinton partly because she would be “a really tough commander in chief.”
“She can handle guys like (Russian leader Vladimir) Putin,” Magdelene said at the campaign roundtable.
She was critical of Trump, saying he has insulted the military and doesn’t understand modern warfare. She expressed concerns the Republican nominee, if elected, would lead her son and the nation to war.
“I don’t trust Trump,” she said.
Mark J. Fogel, 36, of Centerville, a Clinton supporter and former F-15 fighter pilot who flew in Afghanistan, said at the forum the “number one thing” society can do for the military and veterans is to ensure they’re funded and equipped to win any war and “to only send them to war when it’s an absolute necessity.”
The needs of a military spouse and families are key, he added.
“It’s the spouses back home that struggle, so every policy that we need to pass and look at always now needs to take account what’s it going to do for the families,” he said.
Ida J. Carson, 55, a Clinton supporter and mother of a former Marine who deployed three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, said the VA system is “broken.” The Dayton resident said the VA needs to reduce patient wait times, and improve treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.