Paul Hackett wants to go to Washington

If Paul Hackett is victorious in Ohio's 2nd District Congressional race on Aug. 2, he will be the first Iraq war veteran elected to public office.

Hackett's attack on the Bush administration has been relentless, focused, and elegant. He's campaigning -- it must be said -- like a soldier. Hackett, a progressive Democrat and a bit of an iconoclast, takes pleasure in showing how different he is from his far-right Republican opponent, the smooth-talking Jean Schmidt (whose style has been likened to that of "an elementary teacher reading to a group of fifth-graders").

"Look, I'm a Marine Corps combat vet," the Ohio native said during a recent debate with Schmidt. "I'm not soft on defense. I'm not soft on terrorism. Hell, I've looked terrorism in the eye, and I've vanquished it. But I'm hard on an administration that has not had the courage to put forth an Iraq terrorism policy that reflects reality."

Many think the Democrats could use just such a balls-out, tough-talking, strong-on-defense candidate to help them with their image problems.

Hackett, a lawyer who just returned from a seven-month tour of duty in Iraq, regularly blasts the Patriot Act, Bush's tax plan and the skyrocketing cost of the Iraq war (now nearing $200 billion). The driver of a hybrid car, he also criticizes the administration's plan to drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge. While he is strongly pro-choice, Hackett says, "I don't know anybody who thinks abortion is a good thing. Let's keep it safe, legal and rare." (Jean Schmidt is the president of a Cincinnati anti-abortion group).

"Ask yourselves these questions," Hackett said to the audience at the debate. "Are you better off in the past five years? Is your job safer? Do you even have a job? Are you paying more for health care? How about gasoline? If you send me down there [to Washington], I'll fight for you."

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