Retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., blasted GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney Thursday for failing to mention the armed forces during his nomination-acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last month.
“If nothing else, at least mention some word of thanks and respect when a presidential candidate who is their generational peer makes a speech,” Webb said during a speech introducing Democratic President Barack Obama at a Virginia Beach campaign rally, according to the Washington Post.
Webb also criticized Romney for his choice to avoid military service during the days of the draft. The former Massachusetts governor was exempt, first as a college student and then as a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionary.
A former secretary of the navy under President Ronald Reagan, Webb was a highly decorated marine during the Vietnam War.
“This was a time when every American male was eligible to be drafted," Webb said. "People made choices. Those among us who stepped forward to face the harsh unknowns did so with the belief that their service would be honored.”
Webb also criticized Romney’s comments about the 47 percent of Americans who are “victims” relying on government handouts. Webb praised the marines he served with during the Vietnam War, saying they are not “victims” simply because they received government benefits after their service.
“Those young Marines that I led have grown older now. All gave some. Some gave all. That’s not a culture of dependency,” Webb said. ”They paid. Some with their lives, some with their wounds, disabilities. Some with emotional scars. Some with lost opportunities. Not only did they pay, they are owed. They are owed.”
Obama praised Webb’s speech as he took the stage, saying: “As Jim Webb so eloquently stated, when our troops take off their uniforms, we will serve them as well as they served us. No one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.”
While Obama and Webb attacked Romney’s record at the rally, Romney’s representatives fired back soon after the speech was over.
“President Obama’s failure to mention defense cuts today in Virginia Beach proves just how out of touch he is with the hundreds of thousands of military members, veterans, and defense contractors who call the Commonwealth home,” Romney rep Curt Cashour told the Washington Post.