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Obama Focuses on Veterans, Rubio Blasts Policies in Addresses

President Barack Obama renewed the nation’s commitment to its veterans and their futures in his weekly address Saturday, just days before the U.S. combat mission in Iraq comes to an end.

Meanwhile, Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio of Florida challenged Democratic economic policies in his party’s weekly address.

The U.S. military will end its combat role in Iraq on Tuesday, and the president will lay out the path ahead in an Oval Office speech that night at 8.

“As we mark the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq, a grateful nation must pay tribute to all who have served there,” Obama said Saturday. “Because part of responsibly ending this war is meeting our responsibility to those who have fought it.”

He cited efforts to modernize and expand health care under the Department of Veterans Affairs, including electronic record-keeping and new facilities. He also said resources are being directed toward specialized care for female veterans and veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Obama recognized existing support for veterans’ caregivers and for military families while service members are deployed. For veterans deciding their next steps, job training and placement are available, as well as funding for higher education, he said.

“What this new generation of veterans must know is this: Our nation’s commitment to all who wear its uniform is a sacred trust that is as old as our republic itself. It is one that, as president, I consider a moral obligation to uphold,” Obama said.

Rubio hopes to replace Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.), who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009 and agreed not to run for his seat in 2010. Crist is running for the seat as an Independent, while Rep. Kendrick Meek is the Democratic nominee.

“America’s greatness is threatened by the economic policies coming from Washington, D.C.,” Rubio said in the weekly address. “Simply put, they are taking us in the wrong direction. But it’s not too late to do something about it.”

Rubio said lawmakers must “realize that politicians don’t create jobs” and called on them to create an economic climate that encourages job creation.

He promoted an extension of the tax cuts made under President George W. Bush and warned that the government must “stop spending more money than it takes in.” To that end, Rubio called for ending the economic stimulus law and for using its funds to pay down the debt.

Rubio said Washington should repeal the health care overhaul and abandon proposals for card-check legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize and for a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions.

“We are truly at a crossroads,” Rubio said. “Our children will either be the most prosperous Americans ever, or they will be the first to inherit a diminished country.”

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