Retired Admiral Enlists Fellow Officers for Romney Ad
By John Chappell
A retired Navy admiral here recruited hundreds of flag-rank retired officers from every branch of service to put their names out in support of Mitt Romney for president.
Retired Adm. Leighton W. "Snuffy" Smith lined up 508 retired generals and admirals who chipped in to pay for a full page ad in Monday's Washington Times that says, "We, the undersigned, proudly support Gov. Mitt Romney as our nation's next president and commander in chief."
Even Smith himself was surprised by the number.
"The list is unprecedented," he said. "Never have so many retired senior officers taken such a visible stance in a presidential election. In 2008, Senator McCain had the support of 308. This should be seen - correctly - as an overwhelming vote of confidence in Gov. Romney as our next president and commander in chief."
Smith got the ball rolling on this last April when he began seeking Romney endorsements from other flag-rank military retirees. When the numbers piled up, he and a few others decided to put the names -- with permission - in the full-page ad.
He's not the only one from this area. Joining Smith in the effort were other locally retired Army, Navy and Air Force generals and admirals.
"Four others that are locals who come immediately to mind are: Gen. Buck Kernan, Army; Gen. Lance Smith, Air Force; Lt. Gen. Marvin Covault, Army; and Lt. Gen. Ted Reese, Air Force," Smith said. "There may be others."
Reese spent many years working with Congress for the Air Force; his dissatisfaction with the present administration draws on those experiences, he said in a brief telephone call on Monday.
"I just find Gov. Romney a better choice," he said. "We have had four years of a man who had no experience at the executive level - and no friends with experience at the executive level. He came into office without any friends who I would like to be my friends, and obviously with no friends with any business experience, and no friends with any national security experience - which is why he had to rely on Republicans to go into his national security posts."
Gen. Buck Kernan, who commanded the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and later the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg before his retirement, worked closely with Romney when he headed up the 2002 Winter Olympics. That is one reason he thinks it important for so many retired officers of high rank to come out in support of the Romney campaign.
"I had the opportunity - and the privilege - of working with Gov. Romney when I was on active duty and he had the responsibility to support the Winter Olympics," Kernan said. "He was in charge. He was a very thoughtful, very deliberate, very engaged individual. He was very concerned about the various security issues that affected the Winter Olympics. I can't speak to what he had to do to fix the budgetary issues, but I know he made those successful."
Reflecting on Tuesday night's victory by Obama, Smith said, "I'm somewhat surprised and, frankly, not a little disappointed, but still confident that this country, under his leadership, is capable of overcoming the most daunting challenges of an uncertain future.
"I sincerely wish him well."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell@gmail. com.
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