Samoan Paper: ‘Embarrassing Moment for American Samoa During Roll Call at DNC’

In this image from video, Aliitama Sotoa and Petti Matila of American Samoa speak during the state roll call vote on second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)
Democratic National Convention via AP

A local paper in Samoa declared the Democratic National Convention (DNC) roll call an “embarrassing moment for American Samoa,” after local Democrat officials decided to put two active duty soldiers in a live shot while delegates pledged their votes for Joe Biden.

During the DNC roll call on Tuesday, two American Samoa Democrat Party officials cast their votes for Biden, with two soldiers in uniform and wearing masks standing behind them.

The appearance of two soldiers in uniform sparked criticism on social media, since members of the military are prohibited from participating in political events in uniform, per Department of Defense policy.

A DNC official later called it an “oversight.”

The American Samoa Democratic Party committee later acknowledged they made a mistake:

“The American Samoa Democratic Party for its roll call appearance chose to highlight the importance of the US Military in our territory and the fact that American Samoa is the only US jurisdiction that has no COVID‐19 cases,” they said, adding it was a mistake “on our part”:

Our intent was to emphasize our commitment to the US military, as we have the highest per capita of enlisted service members in the United States. Now we realize that the setup for the roll call segment was not the best judgment on our part and a mistake. We express our deepest apologies to the soldiers and their families for our mistake. It was not intended to be a political statement—but our way to show our pride in the US Military and the importance of the US military in our lives and to honor our sons and daughters in the US Armed Services. We take full responsibility for our lack of judgment in this incident.”

The Army is reportedly investigating the incident, and the unit the soldiers are from posted on their Facebook page a reminder of DOD policy.

As the American Samoa paper noted, the incident contradicted the Democrat Party’s platform to not politicize troops.

The platform said, “We will end the Trump Administration’s politicization of the armed forces” and “Democrats will never use active duty soldiers as political props.”

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