DOVER — During the Republican debate earlier this month in Durham, Mark Riss critiqued former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's comment comparing his sons helping his campaign to military men and women serving their country.
At the time of the debate, Riss and his wife, Deb, were awaiting the return of their son, Dan, from his second tour in Iraq as a member of the N.H. National Guard.
Riss, a Dover resident and Strafford County deputy sheriff, said the recent debate helped the couple decide to support Sen. John McCain. The couple also have been named co-chairmen of New Hampshire Military Families for McCain Coalition.
"That night at the debate, it was clear to me that McCain had the right idea," Mark Riss told the Herald. "It's a conflict we have to win. Not just Iraq, it's an ideological battle, a generational conflict. ... I like the fact that McCain was as horrified about the way the war was being handled as we were."
Deb Riss said every vote she has made in the past three elections has been with the war, and how it's been handled, foremost in her mind.
McCain "just seems to be very honest and sincere in what he says," she said. "He is compassionate and understands. The (Bush) administration doesn't."
Deb Riss also said that what Romney originally claimed about his own sons showed a disconnect with the reality faced by military families.
"How is he going to lead our military?" she asked.
Their son, Dan, returned home from his second tour in Iraq on Sunday.
The couple said that they are already manning phone banks for McCain and will do more for his campaign as the primary election day grows closer.
"McCain was right from the beginning," Mark Riss said about the need for more troops in Iraq in 2003. "If they had listened to him, we wouldn't have needed the surge."
The Riss family joins Keith and Elizabeth Farrar of Ossipee and the Domin family of Dunbarton as leaders of the coalition.