The Biden campaign will remove images of a former commander of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS military coalition from an ad after he called out the campaign for including him without his permission, a spokesman said Monday.
"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 BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE has the utmost respect for those who have served, and in accordance with Lt. Gen. MacFarland's wishes we're in the process of removing his image from this ad,” campaign spokesman Michael Gwin said in a statement.
“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,” Gwin added.
The campaign’s statement came after retired Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland wrote a post on his LinkedIn page over the weekend objecting to the use of his image in the ad.
“Much to my surprise, I have been featured more than once in VP Joe Biden's political ad campaign,” wrote MacFarland, who served as the commander of the international coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria from 2015 to 2016.
“A number of people have understandably inferred that my appearance constitutes an endorsement of the former Vice President,” MacFarland added. “It does not. To be clear, I have not endorsed President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE, 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.”
At the bottom of the post, MacFarland included a screenshot of the ad that shows Biden, MacFarland and others in front of a U.S. Air Force transport plane. MacFarland said the picture was taken when Biden visited Iraq as vice president while MacFarland was commanding the anti-ISIS coalition.
The screenshot is from an ad about Biden’s support for mine resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) as a senator in 2007. Biden was one the senators who led the charge to secure funding for MRAPs, which ultimately received broad bipartisan support.
MacFarland said he asked the campaign to remove his image, but was told it would not because of the disclaimer at the bottom that says use of Defense Department imagery does not constitute an endorsement and because MacFarland’s name tape is blurred out.
“Maybe, but like most people, I didn't notice that until it was pointed out to me,” MacFarland wrote. “So, please, let's keep the military out of politics and vice versa. I think our country will be better off if we do.”
A Biden campaign official said when MacFarland reached out before his post, the campaign acknowledged his concern and told him that he would not be included in future ads.
The ad in which he was featured was only airing in Arizona, and the campaign is in the process of removing MacFarland’s image from it, the official said.
MacFarland’s post comes about a week after the Trump campaign was criticized for using an image featuring Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperMilley and China — what the Senate really needs to know Biden, Trump battle over who's to blame for Afghanistan Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief defends Milley after Trump book criticism | Addresses critical race theory | Top general says Taliban has 'strategic momentum' in war MORE and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Pentagon admits 'tragic mistake' in strike that killed 10 civilians The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Washington braces for Jan. 6 rally MORE in an ad.
The Trump campaign ad featured a picture of Trump and his advisers watching the 2019 raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the Situation Room.
The ad, which appeared to target potential main-in voters, was captioned, “President Trump wants you to request your ballot,” and linked to the Trump campaign's voter sign-up page.