Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

President Barack Obama is trying hard to win veterans, but it looks like  they’d prefer a new commander in chief.

The Obama campaign had been hoping that veterans and their families — especially among the post-Sept. 11 generation that served in Iraq and  Afghanistan — would be part of their path to victory: They’re a high turn-out  demographic and concentrated in battleground states, with nearly 1 million each  in North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, and 1.6 million in Florida.

But recent polls make clear that the president’s campaign is  losing the battle. Even as Obama leads in Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia,  Mitt Romney is up by double digits among veterans in those states. Nationwide,  he’s got a commanding 20-percentage-point lead over Obama and has even overtaken  the president with younger veterans.

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“It’s no contest,” said Maurice Tamman, a Reuters data news editor who has  polled on veterans and the presidential campaign.

Obama’s campaign has been trying to improve on a historical Democratic  disadvantage on national security and among veterans by touting the killing of  Osama bin Laden, ending Iraq combat operations and winding down the war in  Afghanistan. They’ve also been talking up the administration’s attention to  veterans’ benefits and efforts spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama, hoping  to appeal not just to the troops but to the spouses and other military family  members who have coped with long separations and multiple deployments.

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Instead, even as Obama has been gaining in the overall polls, several  NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls conducted from Sept. 9-11 had Romney well  ahead of Obama among veterans in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. And in Colorado, a poll released Sept. 16 by SurveyUSA and the Denver Post  found both veterans and military families supporting Romney over Obama 53  percent to 39 percent in a survey that included third-party candidates.

Back in May, Obama had the lead among Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. But a  Reuters/Ipsos poll from September says that’s evaporated, with Romney now up 48  percent to 34 percent.

Obama campaign aides said the slip in the polls needs to be considered  alongside recent surveys showing the president ahead of Romney on questions  regarding foreign policy, leadership and keeping the country safe from terrorist  attacks. In the campaign’s final weeks, Obama will try to close the gap among  veterans by pressing Romney over several foreign policy stumbles as well as a  lack of specifics on his plans for troops.

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Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman, said the Republican’s lead among  veterans comes from their resistance to the looming potential defense cuts under  the budget sequester, problems with Obama’s foreign policy positions and the  backdrop of the stagnant economy that’s left the post-Sept. 11 generation of  Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with a difficult time finding work when they  return home.

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