A veteran in uniform who spoke out in favor of GOP presidential contender Ron Paul and his foreign-policy views after the Iowa Republican caucus could face discipline for potentially having violated military regulations, according to Defense Department officials. But the soldier has already gained a tremendous following online among Paul’s enthusiastic supporters.
After caucusing for the top-tier candidate Rep. Paul (R-Texas), Cpl. Jesse Thorsen spoke to CNN about why he supported the 12-term Congressman’s bid for the Republican nomination. The veteran of the Afghanistan war also called for peace and warned against starting more wars overseas before being abruptly cut off, apparently because of technical problems.
“I’m really excited about a lot of his ideas — especially when it comes to bringing the soldiers home,” the 28-year-old corporal told the CNN interviewer about Dr. Paul before the video feed dropped. “I’ve been serving for 10 years now and all 10 years of those have been during wartime. I’d like to see a little peacetime army and I think he has the right idea.”
As Thorsen continued to speak, the connection was broken, prompting some Paul supporters online to suspect that CNN might have deliberately cut the transmission. But later that night at a post-caucus rally, Ron Paul himself invited Thorsen to the podium to finish his remarks.
“How ‘bout Ron Paul!” Thorsen said as the crowd cheered. “If there’s any man out there that’s had a vision out there, it is definitely him. His foreign policy is by far, hands down better than any other candidate’s out there, and I’m sure you all know that. We don’t need to be picking fights overseas and I think everybody else knows that, too.”
Saying he was “flabbergasted,” Thorsen compared the experience to “meeting a rock star.” He concluded by saying campaign supporters would continue their efforts in New Hampshire and across the nation to ensure that the liberty-minded Dr. Paul would be elected the next President.
But according to some U.S. officials cited in news reports, Thorsen should not have publicly backed a candidate while in uniform. The actions may potentially have even been a violation of a Defense Department “directive” forbidding service members from making “inferences that their political activities imply or appear to imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.”
Thorsen, an Army reservist, has been off active duty since October, an Army Reserve spokesperson told the Washington Post. His commanders are reportedly working to find out whether any regulations had been broken and “determining the next steps.” In the meantime, the Army Reserve distanced itself from Thorsen’s views, saying his views did not represent the institution.
After the ringing endorsement from Thorsen, Paul responded on stage by thanking the soldier and explaining why so many members of the armed forces have joined his campaign. Paul’s bid for President has received more donations from the military than all of the other GOP candidates combined, and recent surveys show the troops are losing faith in Obama and the seemingly endless wars.
“We all know where the active military people send their money,” Paul told supporters in Iowa following Thorsen’s brief appearance, citing his constitutional views on foreign and domestic policy for his widespread support among members of the armed services. The Congressman also took the opportunity to re-emphasize his non-interventionist ideas on foreign policy, his support for the Constitution and balanced budgets at home, and his plan to restore sound money.
“That is the road to peace and prosperity,” Paul concluded. He finished a strong third in Iowa, slightly behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, both of whom advocate a more aggressive foreign policy.
Paul has promised to bring U.S. troops home if elected, ending the war in Afghanistan and closing down hundreds of American military bases around the world in places such as Korea and Germany. He also vowed to break with past administrations by refusing to fight any undeclared, unconstitutional wars.