Michigan Army veteran Tom Barrett blasts Biden's 'collapse of leadership' in GOP campaign launch for Congress

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A Republican state senator from Michigan announced he is running for Congress and leaving the military after 21 years in response to the Biden administration’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal and military COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

State Sen. Tom Barrett, am Army veteran, announced Monday he would be taking on Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., for the new congressional district based around Lansing.

In his campaign’s video announcement, Barrett cited Biden’s military vaccine mandate and deadly Afghanistan withdrawal as two reasons for why he’s running, saying he would be leaving the Army after over two decades of service to campaign for the seat.

Fox News caught up with the former helicopter pilot Monday to discuss his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Barrett cited Biden’s “absolute collapse of leadership” during the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal as having “opened the door” for his decision, calling the chaotic troop withdrawal an “unforgivable lapse of judgment that led to the death” of 13 U.S. service members.

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken look on as as a carry team moves a transfer case with the remain of Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana, during a casualty return at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, for the 13 service members killed in the suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26. 
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“And then the follow on from that, of this unconstitutional intrusion of people’s individual rights and liberties surrounding the mandate of the vaccine, that was really the straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” Barrett said. “And I decided that I could not sit back any longer.”

“I can’t fight the Biden administration as a helicopter pilot in the Michigan Army National Guard,” he continued. “If I’m going to fight back and do something about it, it’s going to be a meaningful difference for the men and women I served with.”

The state senator torched the Biden administration for “ignoring” the Army’s vaccine exemption for those who have recovered from the coronavirus and going back on his campaign promise of not implementing a vaccine mandate.

Barrett said that he wanted to “stand up” and give a voice to those who are in his shoes and “can’t stand up for themselves,” such as the “younger troops.”

“The coercive nature of this mandate is something that I am just philosophically opposed to. For those that want to receive the vaccine, that is their decision to make and I fully support that,” Barrett said, noting his work in the Michigan legislature to ensure access to the vaccine was “abundantly available” for those who wanted one.

Protesters rallying against COVID-19 vaccination mandates gather in the street outside the Barclays Center before an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Charlotte Hornets, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“But I am in no way going to make this coercive or mandatory on anybody,” Barrett continued. “That is an individual health care decision for them to make, and them alone.”

Barrett said his campaign would also be focusing on the “economic devastation” that has resulted from the Biden administration’s policies, such as rising energy costs, inflation and other economic issues.

He also said his campaign would be focusing on “empowering parents” when it comes to their children’s education, noting that there are schools in the part of Michigan he represents that have been “closing the door on parental input.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C. 
(Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

“And now they’re having the Department of Justice and FBI weaponized against them by the Biden administration in an unforgivable way,” Barrett said. “We’re going to be fighting back to give parents a voice in their children’s education and put them back in the driver’s seat.”

The former Army helicopter pilot said he hopes that the recent GOP electoral gains in Virginia, New Jersey and around the country will be an indicator as to how his race and other 2022 races go around the U.S.

“I think that the parental uprising of lifting their voice and voting for candidates that they believe will give them the empowerment that they’re craving and seeking and have a God-given right to decide the care and upbringing of their children,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., holds a constituent community conversation at Oakland University, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Rochester, Michigan. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

“The reflection of that has been seen in Virginia and New Jersey and countless other elections we’ve seen just in the last few weeks, and next year is going to be a continuation of that,” Barrett continued.

Slotkin is running for reelection in the new district being drawn by the state legislature, potentially pitting the two rising political stars against each other for the new seat.

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