At the April 28 U.S. Senate debate in Roanoke, I had an opportunity to ask all four candidates who are seeking the Republican party’s nomination in a June 12 primary election — George Allen, E.W. Jackson, Bob Marshall, and Jamie Radtke — the same question: Although Senator Jim Webb, whom they are seeking to succeed, sits on the other side of the aisle, which of the issues that he has pursued during his term would they continue to work on or build upon?
All four agreed that Webb’s legacy lies in his work on veterans’ issues, particularly his championing of an update to the GI Bill of Rights.
I would commend Senator Webb in the GI Bill. I mentioned in the question on college tuition [asked during the debate], when I was in the Senate [I worked on] increasing tuition assistance to Guard and Reserve troops. The Guard troops and Reserve were getting called up more frequently and they ought to get the same sort of education tuition assistance as does the active. I think Senator Webb’s GI Bill is something I am sure he is rightfully proud of and think that’s very important because I think, and you’ve heard me say this many times, the primary constitutional responsibility of the federal government is national security and national defense and I think it’s important that we keep our promise to our veterans and their families for the benefits they’ve earned. I think we should have a volunteer force and these sort of benefits, I think, are appropriate from a grateful nation to the men and women who risk their lives for our liberty.
Well, I can tell you that in general I know that he’s got a heart for veterans. I don’t think they’ve always been happy but I think they know, because he’s a veteran himself, that that’s a big priority for him. So I would certainly continue in that spirit. There are a lot of issues out there that veterans are concerned about: disability, what kind of treatment they get when they come home wounded from war, and those are things that are very near and dear to my heart. So in that sense, yeah, I’d continue to work very diligently on those issues.
He clearly helped retirement for our military veterans and also for the GI Bill of Rights, so that was a very good thing that he did and I thank him for it.
Radtke said this, echoing the others:
He’s been great with the GI Bill and issues with veterans.
She also added another item, a proposal by Webb to limit U.S. loans to China when China is loaning money to the United States:
That kind of stuff is very common sense. We shouldn’t be borrowing money from China or anywhere else and then turning around and then giving it to other countries. We’re broke. That makes no sense.
I didn’t have a chance to follow up, but I would have been curious to find out what the four candidates thought about Webb’s efforts to reform the federal prison system and sentencing guidelines. Those proposals would have an effect on the devastation of families and individuals wrought by the War on Drugs.