U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson said Democratic challenger Rob Miller’s charges that the Springdale Republican’s more than 40 overseas trips were junkets is the same as accusing U.S. combat troops of being on vacation.
Wilson made his remarks Tuesday in an effort to insulate himself from Miller’s criticism of the GOP congressman’s travel, which has cost more than $100,000 since he was elected in 2001.
Wilson went to the Veterans Memorial on the State House grounds with nearly two dozen veterans to denounce the claims made by Miller, an Iraq war combat veteran.
Miller and Wilson are locked in the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history, having spent nearly $6 million with two weeks to go before the Nov. 2 election.
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The race has narrowed, though the latest poll shows Wilson holding a seven-percentage-point lead.
In one ad, Miller accuses Wilson of taking congressional junkets to locales such as France, Costa Rica , Greece, and Italy.
Wilson said Tuesday the trips “were all military trips to support our troops in combat zones and to show respect for veterans. Every trip that I’ve been on has been to support our military. It’s been with the Foreign Affairs Committee to learn of how I can back up our efforts to make sure our troops are protected around the world.”
He added, “When you arrive in country and you are presented body armor, this is not a vacation. Obviously, I consider it an insult to me, it’s an insult to our troops. If I’m on vacation (visiting the troops) the implication is the troops are on vacation. They are not. They’re defending the families here at home, by defeating the terrorists overseas.”
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