Thursday, November 20

Another Military Heavyweight Jumps The Fence


Former Air Force chief backs Dean candidacy
Retired Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak of Lake Oswego helps bolster the presidential hopeful's military credentials

Retired Gen. Merrill "Tony" McPeak, the former Air Force chief of staff who endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, has left the Republican fold and is backing Democrat Howard Dean in the 2004 race for president.

McPeak, who lives in Lake Oswego, joins a small but growing list of top military veterans who have parted ways with the president at least partly because of the war in Iraq. McPeak's decision could be an important boost for Dean because critics have accused the former Vermont governor of lacking the experience and knowledge needed to be the nation's commander-in-chief.

McPeak, who headed the Air Force during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, criticized the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq before the invasion in March. He also said he has become disenchanted with the president's economic policies.

"I don't think the younger Bush has put a foot right since he entered the White House," said McPeak, who changed his registration from Republican to independent in April.