In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for “spiking the football” on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.
“We’re looking to [put together] a coalition, to field SEALs and operators that want to come out publicly,” executive director of Veterans for a Strong America, Joel Arends, tells BuzzFeed. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with former SEALs and current SEALs. I’ve been talking to operators in the community. There is palatable discontent.”
Arends, a 35-year old Iraq war veteran who has spent the last six years in conservative activist circles, started the group last fall during the Republican primaries.
The group has already done events with former Republican presidential contenders Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Michelle Bachmann. “The Romney campaign didn’t return our calls,” says Arends, adding, “we’d be more than willing to sit down [with the governor.]”
Previously, Arends worked as a field director for Americans for Prosperity and Veterans for Freedom, two other conservative political organizations.
Arends released his first major ad attacking the White House on May 1, titled “Why Does President Obama Take So Much Credit for Killing Bin Laden?”
The video, which took about ten days to produce, went viral. The ad has had more than 250,000 views on YouTube and he’s received some 4,000 emails. Arends was featured on Fox News channel Thursday morning.
Karl Rove also tweeted his support of the ad.
Arends says the group is now looking at airing the advertisement on television in geographic areas with military communities. “Right now we’re going through the process analyzing where we think it would play best,” he says.
“They’re going to have the money” to air the spot, another Republican source told BuzzFeed.
Arends denies he’s trying to “swift boat” Obama, however, a phrase coined in the conservative attacks on the details of John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. “I’m not adverse to that term,” he says. “But we’re not going to run a swift boat campaign against him. We’re going to talk about the issues.”
Arends declined to disclose the source of funding for his group, saying he prefers to keep the donors “anonymity,” and that he’s under no legal obligation to do so.