Video: Iraq vet runs for Congress

A special election next week in Ohio will fill the congressional seat vacated by current U.S. Trade representative Rob Portman.  One Marine reservist wants to succeed him as the first Iraq War veteran in Congress.

Paul Hackett’s journey from the war zone to the political battlefield marks the first time a veteran of the Iraq war has run for Congress.  This Democrat is fighting for every vote in a deeply red Ohio district, and grabbing the attention of local Republicans by placing his war record front and center in his campaign ads.

“In the military, we were taught maneuver warfare, and we make the best out of what we’re given,” says Hackett.

This 43-year-old lawyer, husband and father of three disagreed with the president’s decision to go to war but volunteered last year, serving in Iraq as a civil affairs officer with the 1st Marine Division.

“It’s my country, Democrat or Republican.  I saw it as the best way that I could serve," explains Hackett.

His Republican opponent is not as convinced that time served in battle can compare to experience at home.

"Everything’s local.  Of course, it’s more important here," says congressional front-runner Jean Schmidt.  "The issues that the people have are more important to those individuals than anything outside of that region."

“I’m more than just a reserve Marine.  There are literally millions of men and women who’ve done what I’ve done in Iraq.  But I think that I bring a fresh, honest, direct approach to the political debate today.”

While Hackett may be the one gaining national attention this week, Republicans still bet on their odds to win — it’s been more than 20 years since a Democrat filled this seat. But Hackett says he’s not your typical Democrat.

“I’m very conservative on some issues.  I own a number of guns that I enjoy doing everything from hunting to, skeet shooting, to target practice.  And I think the Democratic Party is wrong on that issue.”

Hackett, an abortion rights advocate, says he’s for limited government and is strong on national defense. Schmidt is anti-abortion, believes the 10 Commandments should be displayed in area schools, and says she and her opponent clash most clearly on one issue.

"I support our president, as does this district. My opponent does not," says Schmidt.

Though Hackett admits he didn't vote for Bush, he is "willing to die for him."

In this battle between blue and red, the issues aren’t black and white.

Voters can decide for themselves at the polls on August 2.

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