Retired Marine Challenges Anti-War Vet for House Seat

Tom Manion says he decided to run for Congress after his son, Travis, was killed in Iraq last year. A veteran Marine and pharmaceutical executive, he now aspires to live by his son’s motto: “If not me, then who?”

“I’m not a career politician,” Manion says. “I want to go [to Washington] as a citizen legislator.”

With only a few days left in his campaign, Manion is fighting to unseat Democrat Patrick Murphy, the first Iraq War veteran elected to Congress and incumbent Representative for Pennsylvania’s 8th District. Murphy is running as an anti-war veteran and has repeatedly backed measures to withdraw troops from Iraq. Along with Barack Obama, Murphy introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007, which proposed “redeploying” all troops by March 2008.

“Patrick Murphy is also someone that has voted against funding our troops. For me—as someone who has worn the uniform—that is simply unacceptable,” says Manion, who served 11 years as an active-duty Marine and 19 years as a reserve.

Manion was recently endorsed by Vets for Freedom, the largest veterans’ group in the country. “Vets for Freedom is pushing for victory,” he says. “They want acknowledgement that the surge has worked, which Patrick Murphy has not given.”

After the Iraq War, Manion says the biggest issues for his campaign are the economy and energy policy. Manion questions Murphy’s portrayal of himself as a fiscal conservative.

“He has not sponsored any legislation to curb runaway spending,” he says. “He has voted to increase taxes. He talks about being a ‘Blue Dog Democrat,’ but he’s voted with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership 93 percent of the time.” He has also voted seven times against domestic drilling and increasing internal energy supply, Manion says.

Although polls have Murphy in the lead, Manion says the gap is narrowing.

“We see that the numbers are getting closer and closer,” he says. “We don’t have the resources that the opposition has, but we’ve put together a great grassroots program…we’ve seen the messages really start to resonate.” John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have campaigned with Manion in recent weeks.

“The voters have to decide what type of leader they want,” Manion says. “They have to decide whether they want more of the same with [Murphy], or if they want someone who wants to make a difference and begin to move our country forward.”