Political News

Biden campaign to remove retired general's image from ad after he objects

Posted October 19, 2020 4:02 p.m. EDT

— Joe Biden's presidential campaign will remove the image of a retired Army general from an ad after the general objected to his inclusion.

Retired Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who once led the military campaign against ISIS, was featured in a Biden campaign advertisement that showed him walking alongside the former vice president during a visit to Iraq in 2016.

"Much to my surprise, I have been featured more than once in VP Joe Biden's political ad campaign," MacFarland wrote in a post on LinkedIn.

"A number of people have understandably inferred that my appearance constitutes an endorsement of the former Vice President. It does not," he added, saying, "To be clear, I have not endorsed President Trump, either. I'm not a political person, but this isn't about just me. I object to the use of ANY military personnel in uniform in political ads - full stop."

MacFarland, who retired in 2018, said he had contacted the campaign to have his image removed from the ad but that his request "was denied with the assurance it was completely legal because of the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad and because my name tag has been blurred."

The Biden campaign includes an endorsement disclaimer in its campaign ads featuring images of the military or service members. The disclaimer in this spot reads, "The use of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute endorsement by the U.S. military, any military personnel, or the DoD."

Asked about MacFarland's statement, a spokesman for the Biden campaign said it would honor his request moving forward.

"As the proud father of a veteran and as someone who has always been a strong ally for our men and women in uniform, Vice President Biden has the utmost respect for those who have served, and in accordance with Lieutenant General MacFarland's wishes we're in the process of removing his image from this ad," Michael Gwin, a Biden campaign spokesperson, told CNN.

Gwin added, "Donald Trump, in sharp contrast, has shown himself happy to use our armed forces as a political prop and trample over the fundamental line between politics and our military to the extent that he's been publicly rebuked by leading current and retired generals and by his own defense secretary."

A Biden campaign official said the ad is currently running in Arizona and the campaign is working to remove his image from that spot.

The Biden campaign's use of MacFarland's image comes amid increased scrutiny of the military role in the presidential campaign.

The Trump campaign recently ran an ad featuring the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, appearing alongside President Donald Trump.

A defense official told CNN that there was some consternation regarding the ad and that the Pentagon did reach out to the White House to get the ad featuring Milley taken down. The ad has been since taken down.

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