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Published May 25 2012

Gulleson pledges support for veterans

FARGO – Democrat Pam Gulleson pledged Friday to maintain funding and other support for veterans’ services if she’s elected to the U.S. House.

In a news conference with Fargo-area veterans and campaign supporters, Gulleson vowed to “uphold the promise we have to our veterans and honor the benefits they’ve so rightly earned.”

“We have a great obligation to them,” Gulleson said, adding that nearly one in 10 North Dakotans – or about 60,000 – have served in the military.

She said Congress has made positive strides in the past five years to boost veterans’ benefits and services, but Republican proposals in the U.S. House could threaten that.

The proposal by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan recommends $11 billion less in spending for veterans than Democratic President Barack Obama’s proposed 2013 budget.

“(Ryan’s plan) places in vulnerability the progress we’ve made,” Gulleson said.

Ryan’s budget passed the House this spring, but the Senate killed it by a 58-41 vote. Meanwhile, Obama’s budget proposal failed in both chambers without receiving a single supporting vote.

Several North Dakota veterans formally endorsed Gulleson on Friday, citing her strong legislative experience and dedication to veterans’ issues.

“It’s often been thought that being a veteran is enough to serve in the halls of Congress,” said Bill Anderson, a former Marine and a resident in Gulleson’s hometown of Rutland. “But if you want legislation passed, you need a trained and experienced legislator.”

Republican-endorsed U.S. House candidate Brian Kalk is a retired Marine who promotes his military experience as among his strengths for congressional office.

He has also received the formal endorsement of the Afghanistan & Iraq Veterans for Congress.

“We have had ‘experienced’ legislators in Congress for decades, and the results are obvious: We are nearly $16 trillion in debt, our economy is stalled and there are no answers coming from these ‘experienced’ legislators,” Kalk spokesman Jason Flohrs said Friday.

“Politics as usual is not working,” Flohrs added. “Brian Kalk brings an unmatched record of leadership in the military, education and at the Public Service Commission.”

Republican Kevin Cramer, also a public service commissioner, is challenging Kalk for the GOP nomination in the June primary.

Whoever wins that election will take on Gulleson in the November election.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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