Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity
January 4th, 2012
12:42 PM ET
11 years ago

Army soldier rallying for Paul violated military ban on political activity

(CNN) - Ron Paul spent Tuesday heralding his support among members of the military, but one active-duty supporter may be in trouble after lauding Paul on stage while wearing his Army uniform.

Army Cpl. Jesse Thorsen spoke during Paul's speech at his headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, Tuesday night. Paul invited Thorsen to speak on stage after a technical glitch cut short an earlier live interview on CNN.

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Guidelines laid out in the federal Hatch Act specifically prohibit uniformed members of the military from making political speeches or taking official roles on political campaigns. Members of the military are permitted to attend political rallies, but must not be wearing their uniform while in attendance. On stage with Paul, Thorsen was wearing green Army fatigues.

On Tuesday evening, Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of the veterans' advocacy organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote on his Facebook page that Thorsen would likely be reprimanded.

"The soldier that spoke tonight on behalf of Ron Paul is gonna be in a bit of trouble," Rieckhoff said. "Politics in uniform is a big no-go. And Paul and his campaign should know better. Troops are bound by the (Uniform Code of Military Justice)."

Paul called Thorsen on stage during his caucus-night speech in Iowa Tuesday, saying the active duty Army corporal had been with his campaign for "quite a few years."

"He's been serving in the military for ten years, and he's been overseas a lot," Paul said.

During his address to Paul's supporters, Thorsen lauded the White House hopeful's foreign policy platform.

"If there's any man out there that has a vision for this country, it's definitely him," Thorsen told the crowd. "His foreign policy is by far, hands down, better than any candidates out there, and I'm sure you all know that."

Thorsen said being on stage with Paul was "like meeting a rock star."

Paul's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

–CNN's Dana Bash and Adam Levine contributed to this report.

Also see:

Paul: Gingrich a 'chickenhawk'

Iowa outcome: What it means for the president

McCain backs former foe Romney over Senate colleague Santorum

Romney NH ad alleges Obama broke promises

Filed under: 2012 • Ron Paul
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. mario

    kick him out

    January 4, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Bob Hatch

    So much for the 1st Amendment... you know, one of those freedoms our active duty troops risk their lives for...

    January 4, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |

    Ron Paul is going to get this soldier in trouble. He'll probably get an Article XV behind this.

    January 4, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Gaven

    A ten-year E4? Sounds like he isn't too worried about his career to begin with.

    January 4, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Tharms

    Wow, the Left sure does spend an awful lot of time trying to make people responsible for other people's sins. I guess that's a socialism thing.

    January 4, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Hardrain77

    Yet if that brave soldier were stumping for Santorum and applauding the thought of nuking Persians, not only would CNN not have cut him off, they would've promoted him to General by now.

    January 4, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. TheRightRadical

    Let me know where I can send a check to help pay the Cpl fine, and even offset his bust down. I only wished it had been me up there. I even would have worn my dress blues.
    I know you're Army Cpl Thorsen but
    Semper Fi

    January 4, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Frank

    Amazing that this soldier did not know he could not do this while on active duty. But then, he apparently has been in the Army for 10 years and is still a corporal. Based on time-in-grade rules, he has been passed over several times.

    January 4, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. A Texan

    You would think a Presidential candidate wouldn`t allow a soldier to violate the law just to speak in his behalf ???? That`s right, the law doesn`t really apply in this case, does it ???

    January 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. test

    the truth of the matter, is no one cares about the military ban.

    January 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Scott

    Politics in uniform is a big no-go. And Paul and his campaign should know better.

    Politics in uniform is a big no-go. And CNN and their staff should have known better.

    You were the ones who put a soldier in uniform on TV and ask for his opinion, CNN blatantly baited a soldier into violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    Set aside the issues surrounding the controversy of the statements made, that were in opposition to the question being asked. The original question asked for his opinion on a political stance of a candidate.

    Focus on the fact that CNN screwed up by airing him in the first place; and owes this soldier an apology for putting him in that situation.

    January 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. KYLE

    When it comes to a huge issue like our foreign policy, I want to hear what our military personnel has to say. This guy served 10 years and heading back for his 3rd tour in Afghanistan! It shouldn't matter whether he's speaking in his underwear or his uniform, what this man has to say matters and we need to listen. Shame on CNN for hacking his interview. And realistically, I'm sure we have a lot of officials higher on the totem pole who should be reprimanded for things much worse than advocating peace while in uniform

    January 4, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. rkt210

    What a completely stupid act by someone who should know better. I suppose the fact that he's still a corporal after 10 years explains it....

    January 4, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Baby Boomer

    Too bad we can't fine Ron Paul. He wants to be Commander In Chief and he doesn't know basic uniform code regulations??? He's just not ready for prime time...

    January 4, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. rdepontb

    Looks like Rand might have known better than his Dad did here, about inviting a uniformed soldier to speak in public on Ron's behalf. In fact, Rand seemed to be comtemplative a number of times, and did not obviously applaud everytime the audience erupted at his father's words. The Senator's got to watch out for his own future-

    January 4, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. KMcGee

    As I watched this last night, I knew that this was not proper...looks like I was right. I am left with one lingering question though; how is one still a Corporal after 10 years in the military???

    January 4, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Keyser Soze

    Chalk another one for why Paul is not fit for C-I-C

    January 4, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. NameAnthony B,NJ

    Send him to jail

    January 4, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. KM

    Bad move soldier, you should know better.

    January 4, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. tim

    A few items of note. FIrst of all, the Paul campaign should have known better than to exploit the Soldier. By inviting him onstage, they pretty much ended his career, which brings me to my second point.

    It wasn't much of an Army career and Cpl. Thorsen isn't really the guy I'd want endorsing me. He's a 10 year Corporal. Obviously he's been busted down in rank on more than one occassion and isn't the best Soldier the Army has ever seen. This will likely be his last straw.

    January 4, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. jeff

    so it was ok for you at CNN to injterview him first and then SLAM him after you cutt him off then Ron Paul gives him the correct guys are pathetic

    January 4, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Cp

    PLEASE punish this man for speaking what he felt about Ron Paul!!

    A GREAT way to get Dr Paul's message out about how the US Government has too much control on its citizens lives.


    January 4, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Johnny

    Since when did our military lose their right to the first amendment?

    January 4, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. MN combat vet

    First-he did violate the uniform code of military justice, and will (should) get as a minimum an Article 15, which ins called non-judicial punishment, which can be administered by his unit commander. Second, if in fact he has been in the army for 10 years and is still a corporal with combat experience, he's screwed up royally somewhere. Most enlisted people with combat experience are at least Sergeants or Staff Sergeants in that time frame

    January 4, 2012 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. Sandy

    Rules don't apply to Republicans.

    January 4, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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