Joe Biden Campaign Removes Photo of Retired General from Ad After His First Request Was Denied

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - OCTOBER 1: Let. Gen. Sean MacFarland is introduced as the new commander General of the US led coalition in Iraq on October 1, 2015 in Baghdad, Iraq. MacFarland is a three-star general in the United States Army. (Photo by Khalid Mohammed-Pool/Getty Images)
Khalid Mohammed-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden campaign said Monday that they would remove the photo of a retired Army general from an October 10 campaign ad after they denied his first request for removal.

Breitbart News first reported Sunday that Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Sean MacFarland had requested that the Biden campaign remove his photo from one of their ads, but the campaign refused to do so, telling him it was legal to use the photo.

MacFarland, who served as the commander of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS military coalition between 2015 and 2016, said he wanted his photo removed because he is not a political person and the ad, despite there being a disclaimer, implied his support.

He was so concerned about the matter, he spoke out publicly on his LinkedIn page, writing:

Much to my surprise, I have been featured more than once in VP Joe Biden’s political ad campaign. The picture below was taken during his visit to Iraq when I was leading the campaign against ISIS from 2015-2016 and actually had nothing to do with the subject of the ad, which pertained to a 92-3 Senate vote in 2007. A number of people have understandably inferred that my appearance constitutes an endorsement of the former Vice President. It does not. To be clear, I have not endorsed President [Donald] Trump, 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. That goes double for generals and admirals, even if we have since retired, as I have. Many people wouldn’t know or care about that distinction. Also troubling, nobody asked permission to use my image. My request to remove it was denied with the assurance it was completely legal because of the disclaimer at the bottom of the ad and because my name tag has been blurred. Maybe, but like most people, I didn’t notice that until it was pointed out to me. So, please, let’s keep the military out of politics and vice versa. I think our country will be better off if we do.

On Monday, the Biden campaign’s Deputy Rapid Response Director Michael Gwin told Politico in a statement, “In accordance with Lieutenant General MacFarland’s wishes we’re in the process of removing his image from this ad.”

He added, “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.”

Last week, the Trump campaign was criticized for an ad that featured a photo of Trump and Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley. The ad was ultimately taken down, according to CNN.

It is not the first time Democrats have been caught using the military as a political prop, despite pledging never to do so in their party platform.

During the Democratic National Convention, a video from the American Samoa’s Democratic Party featured two U.S. soldiers in uniform as a delegate pledged to vote for Joe Biden. The DNC later apologized.

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