September 4th, 2008
02:42 PM ET
14 years ago

Navy: SEALs should not have been recognized at RNC

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two Navy SEALs attending the Republican National Convention were there in a private capacity only and should not have been publicly recognized during the event, a Navy spokesman told CNN Thursday.

The men were acknowledged from the podium at the Xcel Energy Center Wednesday evening by Orson Swindle, a former POW cellmate of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who pointed them out and asked them to stand.

They did so, but appeared to be visibly uncomfortable.

The men, wearing civilian clothes, had been given permission to attend the St. Paul, Minnesota, event to support the family of their close friend and fellow SEAL Michael Mansoor, who was killed in action in Iraq, said Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jeff Davis.

There are very strict rules about active duty military personnel not attending political events or appearing to publicly support candidates.

The men, Lt. Leif Babin and Special Warfare Operator First Class Tom Deshazo, were legally on leave and had been granted permission to go to the convention as long as they were not in uniform and refrained from all public or media statements, Davis explained.

They were only allowed to escort the sister of Mansoor, who had asked them to be there for emotional support, the spokesman said.

Swindle's public recognition of them was a mistake, Davis said.

"The RNC was asked and agreed not to recognize or identify the SEALs at the convention," he said, adding that the Navy believes Swindle ad-libbed when he pointed them out.

Meanwhile, McCain's two active-duty sons also were granted permission to attend the convention by the Navy, the spokesman said.

"The campaign of Sen. John McCain asked the Department of the Navy to allow his sons - one a Marine, one a Naval Academy midshipman - to participate at the party's national convention this week.

"Lance Cpl. James H. McCain and Midshipman 1st Class John S. McCain IV requested and were authorized leave for the event," Davis said.

The Navy allows them to attend as spectators but they cannot give speeches or presentations, other than to appear on stage with their family - and they must be in civilian clothing.

They must also be in civilian clothing in any kind of biographical presentation about the McCain family, in any interviews or in family photographs that may be published, Davis said.

The Army also gave the same orders to Pfc. Track Palin, the son of McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Track is scheduled to leave for Iraq with his unit on September 11.

Separately, a senior Pentagon official said it is expected that the children of McCain; his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden will continue with all their expected military duties and deployments to war zones without interruption or any special treatment.

Beau Biden is a JAG in the Delaware National Guard and will be deploying to Iraq this fall.

soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. reality check

    Palin qualified to be our next V.P.?? Get Serious. She can't even be trusted ,with not telling the world who her son is and where he's being deployed!!

    September 4, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. dfg

    And the Boy Scouts that were seen in uniform in the background of Palin's introduction event last week were not supposed to be there, either, and the campaign knows it.

    The McCain campaign doesn't care - I guess rules don't apply to POW's.

    Any why is it ok for Palin to talk her son in the military, but not her daughter's pregnancy?

    When Joe Biden was asked about his son in the military, his response was "We don't talk about our sons."

    September 4, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Peter, MI

    Shame on this party – what has become of the GOP? I remember this party very differently when I was younger.
    I still try to figure out: when did the GOP exactly change and become so demeaning, so full of double-standards and hypocrisy?
    I think we'll all look back and find that Bush, Rove and the like have done great damage to the GOP, for years to come.

    September 4, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. JustMyObservation

    Palin categorized herself as a pitbull...basically saying that she’s tough! Therefore, when being questioned/attacked by the media (she is a former journalist/news reporter…she knows the ropes...has a BA in Journalism from U of Idaho...no other degrees), or attacked by political opponents, the word SEXISM does not exist. All is fair in LOVE AND POLITICS...GAME ON!!!!!!!!!

    For those of you who are claiming sexism when Palin is attacked, remember, get out the kitchen if you think the kitchen is too hot!!!

    September 4, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Alvin York

    The Democrats are just jealous. Everybody already knows that Navy SEALS and Green Berets and Army Rangers and U.S. Marines would never, ever vote for the appeasment, "America Last" party.

    September 4, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Truth Be Told

    Republicans don't care for rules. Remember the over 4,000 american soldiers killed in Iraq? over a 1,000 more coalition lives? and thousands of Iraqis killed because our maverick president don't care for rules and diplomacy?

    so what else is new with "outing" the brave seals men at the convention?

    September 4, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Victory

    The military needs to get its head out of the sand, solders vote and they should express thier opinion of who they want to die for or not.

    September 4, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Eric

    With all the scandals, lies, distorted truths and crimes affecting the Bush/McCain administration, this one looks minor.

    September 4, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. pete

    I think it was totally inappropriate for Orson Swindle pointed them out and asked them to stand. These guys just wanted to enjoy a night out and properly show support for their political party. All Special Operators try their best to remain unknown because of three reasons
    (1) To protect their families ( Most important)
    (2 Not knowing who they are just adds to the mystery and secrecy of the Special Forces
    (3) But most of all is to avoid all the dump people asking all those dumb questions.

    September 4, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Tony

    There should be no dobt by anyone that the republicans will use ANYTHING and ANYONE to get what they want.

    the last 8 years is a perfect example.

    September 4, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. tom

    the republicans dont care about the soldiers in our military there is alot of poor democrats in the military, the republicans are just helping there elections out.

    September 4, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Baze

    So they bash Obama for not going to the military hospital in Germany because the Pentagon doesn't allow military figures to be used as political pundits, but here are the G.O.P. fascists selling them for the say of their agenda. You people make me sick!

    September 4, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Michael in Houston

    Thrasher obviously you have not spent a day in the Military let along been part of SOCOM. The fact that they are Spec Ops is not a big secret unless thier NEC dictates it but to expose themon National Televison was flat out stupid. Thier identity has now been exposed and both will more than likely be working within thir NEC now. Nice going Republicans. What next, one of your party leaders exposing a CIA agent? Oh my fault, you already did that.

    September 4, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. 45 year old white lady for Obama

    You would think the great military man mccain would have known that!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 4, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Lynne - Seattle WA

    And the guy that introduced them is retired military??? He should have known better! Shame on him putting their careers in jeopardy! Typical Republicans...We want to look good, so screw you!

    September 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. joshua, tennesse.

    people, people, easy, easy, no matter what they do, bottom line is Palin is a maverick just like McSame, no matter what the media or we the pople say, they are above the law (look at karl rove) and the excuse we get all the time is "McSame is a war hero, he suffer terribly for america in vietnam" .... for bush is 9/11 for MacSame is POW.... shame!
    waaaaaaa! I want to be president waaaaaaaaa!

    September 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. All the Kings Horses and All the Kings Men Couldn't Put Fallen Little Miss Ice Chip Together Again!

    Gotta throw them military props under the bus along with the out-of-wedlock grandchild!

    September 4, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Poetic Justice

    I feel sorry for those SEALS. To spend their lives training to be part of a very special group and have it all thrown away in 2 minutes for someone panhdering for votes is criminal and Swindle ought to be charged for violating procedures according to military rules.

    September 4, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Cecil

    GOP There Nothing But Haters, Liars, Cheaters And UnAmericans!

    Obama 08

    September 4, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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