Veterans groups are pushing back against a recent NRA ad that uses Benghazi to make a case for Donald Trump.
The ad features footage of Mark “Oz” Geist, one of the military contractors who fought in Libya in 2012, apparently inside a military cemetery, which would violate the Department of Veterans Affairs’ prohibition on filming campaign ads on national cemetery grounds.
“A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win. Well, I know some people who won’t be voting this year either,” Geist says in the ad, while standing in a cemetery.
“Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it,” he says. The ad closes with a logo enjoining viewers to vote for Trump.
The NRA, which has endorsed Trump, spent $2 million to broadcast the ad in battleground states and denied to ABC that it was filmed on a military cemetery.
“To date, the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs has not received or approved any filming requests of this nature,” VA spokesman James Hutton told ABC News. “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content.
Media Matters reported that representatives of other veterans groups were offended by the ad:
“Don’t use our dead to score political points,” Joe Davis, a Veterans of Foreign Wars national spokesman and an Air Force veteran of Desert Storm, told Media Matters. “We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”
Jon Soltz, an Iraq War Veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, responded with a statement that said, “This ad should be taken down immediately. It is insensitive to those buried at the cemetery — most, if not all, of whom died before Benghazi, and many of whom may not have been NRA supporters. Further, it violates Veterans Affairs policy. It should be taken down.”
The ad, which says nothing about firearms or gun control, is part of a trend of the NRA producing promotional videos that are more broadly focussed on conservative issues and do not address guns.
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