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Friday, July 1, 2022
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Congressional Run-Off Debate Sparks Questions on Military

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Antonio Swad and Justin Webb | Image by respective campaign websites

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Early voting ended Friday for the May 24 primary runoff election. One of the races that Republicans will decide upon is their nominee for U.S. Congressional District 32.

Military veteran and investment banker Justin Webb is facing off against business owner Antonio Swad for a spot on the November ballot to challenge Democratic incumbent Collin Allred.

During a recent debate between the two runoff candidates, the moderator posed a question about the possible revocation of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Both candidates agreed that Congress should revoke the AUMF, and only Congress, not the president, should be able to authorize military force.

Webb pointed to his 19 years of military service, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and said he hopes an AUMF is never used again. He also said the U.S. has not fought an actual war since 1945 and claimed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were “fickle mission[s] with no end, no goals, and no objectives.”

Swad noted the amount of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in both conflicts and agreed they were unjust wars. He then questioned why Webb kept going back into military service if he thought the wars were unnecessary.

Webb responded by saying he volunteered to go back because the country needed him, and he took an oath to support the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Swad then asked Webb to “build a bridge” between supporting the Constitution and serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, citing the number of civilian deaths and stating that all the American soldiers there should have returned to the U.S.

That question from Swad sparked anger in a few crowd members, which delayed the debate and prohibited Webb from responding.

The Webb campaign subsequently sent out a newsletter highlighting this portion of the debate stating that Swad questioned his “military service — and the dedication of our nation’s veterans.”

“I was grateful for that opportunity to clarify the importance of service to our country and our community,” the newsletter reads.

“I have both the military and business experience to effectively represent the constituents in TX-32,” the newsletter continues. “Moreover, my ability to stand up for veterans and bring the party together proves that I have what it takes to win this seat from the Democrats in November.”

Speaking with The Dallas Express, Webb said he was not offended by Swad’s question and respected his opinion and right to speak his mind. He clarified that he does not believe Swad is anti-military but “doesn’t have the same vantage point [he does].”

“It’s clear that my opponent and I disagree on the point of service — both in service to our country in the military and in the broader sense of the meaning of public service,” Webb added.

When asked why he highlighted that portion of the debate for a campaign newsletter, Webb remarked that it “shows the sharpest contrast between the choices the voters face.”

“The race to represent the constituents of Texas’ 32nd district is fundamentally about the nature of service. My focus on service extends beyond my time in the military. It’s about community involvement,” Webb said. “The clearest example is when I worked night and day to help rescue my Afghan interpreters — American allies who served alongside me — from the Taliban as the terror group was seizing the country.”

“The entire purpose of holding a Congressional seat is to serve your constituents’ interests and not your own,” he added. “That, I believe, is the fundamental choice in this race: understanding the nature of service and whether candidates will fully devote themselves to their constituents.”

Swad spoke with The Dallas Express and affirmed that he is “100% pro-military,” noting that his father was a World War II veteran that participated in the D-Day invasion at Normandy. His brother served in Vietnam and returned from the war “unharmed but not unchanged.”

“I love our veterans. My family bears the scars of serving our nation, and as a child, it informed how I grew up and conducted myself as an adult,” said Swad.

Swad also highlighted that he and Webb agree that WWII was the last actual war the U.S. fought as a nation since Congress did not authorize any future uses of military force.

He maintains that his question to Webb about the connection between the Constitution and the wars in the Middle East was significant.

“I asked him to ‘build a bridge on American policy over the last few decades to tell myself, and those in the audience how we account for the billions spent and lives lost,'” said Swad. “It’s a fair question and an important one. Particularly if you are running for the very office that casts a vote on the United States ever going to war again.”

If elected, Swad stated that he would support rebuilding the military and supporting veterans.     

“I believe our country, and the entire world, for that matter, is a safer place when the United States carries the largest stick,” he said. “However, like President Trump, I am not in favor of spending billions of dollars and risking American lives overseas when the safety and security of the American people are not threatened.”

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