U.S. soldiers have donated more presidential campaign money to Democrat Barack Obama than to Republican John McCain, a reversal of previous campaigns in which military donations tended to favor GOP White House hopefuls, a nonpartisan group reported Thursday.
Troops serving abroad have given nearly six times as much money to Obama's presidential campaign as they have to McCain's, the Center for Responsive Politics said.
The results also are striking because Obama has never served in the military. McCain meanwhile, is a decorated war veteran who spent nearly five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Arizona senator graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and had a 22-year career as a naval aviator.
Obama has opposed the war in Iraq and says he would withdraw combat troops within 16 months. McCain has been a steadfast supporter of the war, saying he would withdraw the troops only when conditions on the ground warrant it.
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“Obama will work tirelessly to uphold this nation's sacred trust with its veterans, to ensure they are not forgotten after they return home and he will provide our troops with the leadership they deserve, as well as the support they and their families need,” Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said.
McCain's campaign played down the significance of the donations.
“John McCain has been endorsed by more retired admirals and generals than Barack Obama has military donors,” McCain spokesman Michael Goldfarb said in a statement.
“We feel confident that many U.S. troops stationed overseas will support John McCain in the election this fall, but we suspect most are too busy doing the important work of defending this country than to make political contributions,” Goldfarb said.
The report tracked donations of $200 or more. It found that 859 members of the military donated a total of $335,536 to Obama. McCain received $280,513 from 558 military donors.
Among soldiers serving overseas at the time of their donations, 134 gave a total of $60,642 to Obama while 26 gave a total of $10,665 to McCain.