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Battleground Virginia: Romney and Obama woo military veterans (+video)

Mitt Romney holds the advantage over Obama in key battleground states with voters who are veterans. In Virginia Thursday, Romney denounced planned cuts in military spending. Obama stressed duty to care for service members returned from war.

By Staff writer / September 27, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at American Legion Post 176 in Springfield, Va., Thursday, Sept. 27.

Brian Snyder/Reuters

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Springfield, Va.

Mitt Romney and President Obama stormed through the key battleground state of Virginia Thursday with their eyes on a politically prized group of voters: veterans.

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Mr. Romney, the GOP’s presidential nominee, gave a speech to some 200 people at an American Legion post in Springfield, Va., a city that sits at the heart of the commonwealth’s booming suburban corridor with deep connections to the military and defense contractors.

At the same time, Mr. Obama addressed some 7,000 in Virginia Beach, Va., home to the congressional district with the highest percentage of veterans and studded with military installations from edge to edge.

Recent polls indicate that Romney has a double-digit lead among veteran voters in the key swing states of Ohio, Florida, and Colorado – and a similar 12-point advantage in Virginia, 52 percent to 40 percent, in one recent poll. More than 1 in 10 Virginia voters (12.8 percent) are veterans, according to the 2010 Census figures and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

The two candidates took different paths toward addressing defense, services for veterans, and foreign policy before ultimately arguing that their respective economic plans offer a better way to ensure America’s strength.

In Springfield, Romney characterized defense spending cuts slated for next year as “unthinkable and devastating” reductions that he never would have agreed to in the first place.

He critiqued the president in a sweep of foreign affairs – concerns about nuclear arsenals in North Korea and Iran, a “highly tumultuous” Pakistan, the slaughter of civilians in Syria, and an Egypt headed by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, among other issues. “If you keep going around the world, it is still a troubling and dangerous world,” Romney said.

Romney also implied that he would break up jams in the veterans benefits system, calling mental health issues, in particular, a "crisis."
"We have huge numbers of our men and women returning from conflict that are seeking counseling, psychological counseling, and can’t find that counseling within our system," Romney said. "And, of course, record numbers of suicides."

In Virginia Beach, Obama let Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virginia torch Romney on issues directly relating to veterans.

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