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McCain Wants Bush Adviser Ousted

February 24, 2000

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign enlisted fellow Vietnam prisoners of war and McCain’s brother Thursday to demand that Gov. George W. Bush oust a campaign adviser who accused the senator of ignoring veterans.

Paul Galanti, a captive with McCain in Hanoi who now heads his Virginia campaign, said he and fellow Vietnam veterans were furious at comments by J. Thomas Burch Jr.

Galanti, three other Vietnam prisoners-of-war and McCain’s younger brother, Joe, of Fairfax, Va., walked into Gov. Jim Gilmore’s office on the third floor of the state Capitol to deliver a letter asking that Burch be removed from Bush’s senior advisory council.

Gilmore, who is co-chairman of Bush’s Virginia campaign, did not come out from his office while Galanti and the veterans were there. Galanti left the letter with a receptionist.

Through his spokesman, Gilmore acknowledged that veterans issues are important in Virginia and said McCain’s campaign should refrain from attacking other veterans.

``There are a number of veterans with differing views, as Michigan and South Carolina (primaries) showed. The veteran vote was evenly split,″ said Mark A. Miner, the Gilmore spokesman.

During a Feb. 3 campaign appearance with Bush in Sumter, S.C., Burch said McCain ignored veterans after he was released in 1973 after 5 1/2 years of captivity in North Vietnam.

``He came home and forgot us,″ said Burch, who is chairman of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition.

Joe McCain said Burch’s remarks angered his brother.

``No man thinks more about the military and the people who have served it than John McCain,″ he said.

Meanwhile, Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley plans to endorse Bush Friday when he campaigns in Newport News.

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