Montana's U.S. House candidates outline positions on veterans issues


MISSOULA, Mont. - In a political season where all eyes are drawn to Montana's headline-grabbing Senate race, candidates for the state's only seat in the House of Representatives are maneuvering for voter recognition that will set them apart. This week Ryan Zinke and John Lewis set out to do just that.

The plan -- target veterans issues with a personal brand that gives voters a choice. The result -- voters will have to look close for any substance to separate them.

Monday, in a press release, Lewis rolled out his call for an "advisory council." Before the ink was dry, 17 supporters had stepped forward.

Lewis says the council will "help hold Congress accountable" for promises made.

His campaign staff highlighted the candidate's priorities. They include administrative reforms at the Veterans Adminstration, workforce development through improved training and education, and improved access for rural veterans health care.

The next day, Republican Ryan Zinke was on the steps of the state capitol in Helena with a five-point plan of his own. The message sounded familiar.

Zinke's plan would increase administrative accountability in the Veterans Administration, uphold the promise of education for veterans and provide more job opportunities by aligning industry standards with military standards. He would also improve access and quality of care by allowing routine procedures to be done at local hospitals.