Military brass take shine to Sitton
GOP candidate talks defense policy
As the CD8 GOP primary race nears Election Day, Dave Sitton addressed a room of about 30 people who would make an impressive "who's who in Tucson-area retired brass" list on Monday evening.
Before Sitton spoke, Lt. Gen. Robert Johnston (Ret.) told those gathered he supports the Republican candidate because Sitton understands the need to keep America's military strong, even as combat roles in Iraq and Afghanistan diminish.
"Was anyone expecting Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan?" the retired Marine general asked.
Johnston said that half of the budget cuts sought by President Barack Obama and Congress are directed at the military, despite the military accounting for just 20 percent of the federal budget.
The White House's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 calls for $525 billion to be spent on the Pentagon, a 1 percent reduction from the 2012 enacted budget.
The military does face a potential $600 billion in sequestration cuts through 2021, which are caused by letting active contracts for, say, aircraft orders to expire.
The White House budget also cites the administration's "commitment to maintain a reliable nuclear deterrent."
Retired Air Force Col. Kent Laughbaum, a former commander of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, called himself a friend of Sitton and said, "I know all four candidates ... Dave Sitton is the guy we need going to Congress."
Laughbaum also cited the need to preserve Davis-Monthan, alternately citing the base's contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its economic importance to the city.
"We need Dave to fight and make sure we're ready to win the next war," Laughbaum said.
Sitton, who is not a veteran, praised the military and said, "I want to make sure our military has an unfair advantage."
He also called for Washington to set victory conditions for Afghanistan and get there.
Asked how Sitton would deal with political gridlock on the Hill, Sitton said his tenacity will overcome inertia.
Sitton faces retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, along with Marine veteran Jesse Kelly and state Sen. Frank Antenori, a former Green Beret, in the April 17 Republican primary. That election will determine who will face Democrat Ron Barber in the June 12 special election to fill the CD 8 seat vacated by Gabrielle Giffords.