The nation's largest veterans group hit back at President Obama on Thursday and urged him not to "denigrate" their intelligence after the president suggested their members were easily swayed by cable news and "right-wing radio."
The Veterans of Foreign Wars called out the president after Obama referenced the political opinions at "VFW halls" in an Indiana speech Wednesday that toggled between campaign politics and the economy.
"I don't know how many VFW Posts the president has ever visited, but our near 1.7 million members are a direct reflection of America," VFW National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Jr. said in a statement. "We don't have confused politics, we don't need left or rightwing media filters telling us how to think or vote, and we don't need any President of the United States lecturing us about how we are individually [affected] by the economy."
Obama, speaking in Elkhart, Ind., had lamented the "primary story" he claimed Republicans are telling about the economy -- one that focuses on how "moochers at the bottom of the income ladder" are squeezing middle-class families.
"We have been hearing this story for decades," Obama said. "Tales about welfare queens, talking about takers, talking about the '47percent.' It's the story that is broadcast every day on some cable news stations, on right-wing radio, it's pumped into cars, and bars, and VFW halls all across America, and right here in Elkhart."
Obama continued: "And if you're hearing that story all the time, you start believing it. It's no wonder people think big government is the problem."
Biedrzycki suggested veterans are not so easily swayed.
"Our nation was created and continues to exist solely because of the men and women who wear the uniform," he said. "Let's not denigrate their service, their sacrifice or their intelligence."
Obama is no stranger to the VFW, having addressed the group's national convention several times dating back to his first presidential campaign.
He last spoke to the VFW convention last July in Pittsburgh, calling the occasion a "great honor." He used the speech to address ongoing efforts to help America's veterans, especially in the area of health care, in the wake of the Veterans Affairs wait-times scandal.
"As president, I consider it my obligation to help make sure that, even though less than 1 percent of Americans wear the uniform, that 100 percent of Americans honor your sacrifices and your service," he said.