Ron Paul Leads Military Donations Race
Ron Paul is leading all candidates in donations from “current military employees,” the Houston Chronicle reports.
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, the congressman from the Houston area who opposes the Iraq war, has gotten more contributions than any other White House contender from donors identified as affiliated with the military. According to a Houston Chronicle analysis of campaign records from January through September, Paul received $63,440 in donations from current military employees and several retired military personnel.
Democrat Barack Obama, another war critic, was second in military giving. The Illinois senator got $53,968 during the nine months.
He was followed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, a decorated Navy pilot and former Vietnam prisoner of war, who received $48,208 in military-related giving. McCain has been one of the most vigorous defenders of President Bush’s decision this year to increase U.S. troops in Iraq.
But an official with the American Legion, the veterans’ service organization that has supported the Iraq war, said she didn’t know why military employees support Paul. “I don’t know the rhyme or reason behind it,” said Ramona Joyce. “It’s America. Anybody can throw their money at who they want to.”
At the Texas headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Austin, state adjutant Roy Grona said military personnel do not vote as a bloc. “There’s probably a lot of veterans that aren’t happy with the war in Iraq,” he said. Grona said Paul has been endorsed by the VFW in his congressional races in part because of his support for veterans’ benefits.
Andrew Sullivan, an admirer of both Paul and Obama, comments, “Those tasked to actually fighting this war get it, don’t they?”
Well, maybe. The reporters admit, though, that “many contributors do not disclose their occupations, making it difficult to determine the total extent of military contributions to any one candidate.” More importantly, the amount of contributions are incredibly small, hardly proving much of anything.
Nor can we necessarily infer that the war is the primary rationale for choosing a candidate, even within military circles. After all, avid war supporter McCain got almost as much as Obama.
Demographic factors are likely at work, too. Paul and Obama are particularly popular with very young voters and the military skews young, indeed. And Obama also benefits from the fact that, as a Texas A&M political scientist quoted in the piece notes, Obama “attracts support from many black voters, and blacks are a bigger proportion of the military than their overall share of the national population.”