Obama Hits McCain on Veterans Benefits

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama used a Sunday morning pancake breakfast with veterans in Sioux Falls, S.D., to once again blast McCain over veteran’s issues.

Obama highlighted the difference he has with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee over the 21st Century GI Bill proposed by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a bill that passed overwhelmingly in Congress but is now up for looming veto by President Bush.

"John McCain -- like George Bush -- opposed it, even though John McCain didn’t come back to vote, " Obama explained, "I don’t understand why he would side with George Bush in opposing a bipartisan bill that does so much to make college affordable for veterans. George Bush and John McCain may think that the bill is too generous, but I could not disagree more."

The GI Bill would expand education benefits for veterans who served at least three years in the military after Sept. 11, 2001. Obama used the story of his grandfather, who fought in World War II, to demonstrate the need for veterans benefits when they return from war.

"We have an obligation to do everything that we can to extend opportunity to those who serve. Doing so will not only help us with recruitment, not only will it help veterans live their dreams, but that’s what built the middle class in this country was the ability to train a new generation after they’d come back from war," Obama said, "America stood by my grandfather when he took off that uniform, and it never left his side."

The McCain campaign responded to Obama’s criticisms, saying the Illinois senator once voted against funding for a veterans' health bill in 2007.

"Last year Barack Obama was driven by left-wing party politics to vote against more than a billion dollars in funding for veterans' health care because it was included in funding for the 'surge' strategy in Iraq," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said.

Obama ended his visit with veterans, eating a pancake brunch -- the pancake chef tossed three flapjacks high in the air and Obama caught them on a plate.

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