Florida Democrat Randy Perkins has a big problem with his Republican challenger Brian Mast citing his military service in the fight over the state’s 18th congressional district. It led to Perkins having a meltdown over it. He asked Mast how his military service qualifies him to serve in Congress. Mast, a double-amputee who served in Afghanistan, said the Department of Veterans Affairs and the rule of engagement for our forces aboard could be an area where his service could be of some use, though before he could expound, Perkins kept cutting him off. Charlie Hoffman at The Washington Free Beacon has more:
“So tell me why the sacrifices and the services that you have provided for this country make you capable of solving issues?” Perkins asked Mast, a double-amputee veteran of the war in Afghanistan, at a recent candidate forum. Perkins then listed off numerous issues and asked Mast how he would fix them.
Mast named the ongoing problems with the Department of Veteran Affairs and recent changes to the rules of engagement for combat as issues for which he could offer solutions if elected to Congress. Perkins again interrupted Mast before he could offer his solutions.
Perkins became incensed that Mast offered up issues relating to the military and continued to talk over the Republican.
Perkins became defensive when Mast called him thin-skinned, angrily exclaiming, “I’m not thin-skinned!”
Perkins then accused Mast of not being a man for standing behind his ads made by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which he said were “false, misleading and deceptive” claims about Perkins’ disaster-relief business.” The Palm Beach Post reported that Perkins was able to yank this ad made by the NRCC, but noted that there is nothing in the media spot that speaks to Perkins’ accusations:
“As a soldier in Afghanistan, I fought for every single one of you,” Mast continues. “I never cared about race, color, or if you were a Democrat or Republican. That’s the same way I’ll fight for you in Congress. Washington is broken. I know what’s on the line — our environment, our economy and our national security. Give me the honor of serving you again and I’ll do it selflessly and I’ll do it with courage. I’m Brian Mast, and I approved this because America will always be worth everything I have.”
Veterans know that once they leave whatever branch of the military they served in, that dedication doesn’t go away. It’s not like once you hang up your uniform that sense of service and duty vanishes. Veterans continue to serve in their local communities, in law enforcement, in various nonprofits, and entertainment. The nonprofit group Got Your Six is dedicated to that effort. And yes, a few veterans feel like their call to service could be in the form of representing the voters of a certain congressional district or state. It sounds like Perkins may be a bit nervous about Mast’s military background, as polling showed that the veteran held a 47/29 edge over him once undecided voters read their biographies. Mast and Perkins are in a virtual dead heat. Still, you need to have some nerve to question why military service is a qualification to solve the problems we face in Congress. It doesn’t matter. Mast and Perkins both felt a call to service, and a sense of duty in this race. I’m sure Mast doesn’t hold Perkins' lack of military service against him—and he shouldn’t. Yet, when Perkins lobbed this unnecessary attack against Mast to somewhat de-legitimize his campaign, it came off as a tad petulant. Overall, the whole question about what makes someone qualified to try and make this country better is just odd. This is America—anyone can run for public office if they feel they can solve our nation’s problems. Just have a plan and let the voters decide. This meltdown was just unnecessary.