Donald Trump has been endorsed by 88 former military leaders in an open letter, according to his campaign. The group of retired generals and admirals declared the Republican nominee “has the temperament to be commander-in-chief”. Trump, who has highlighted veterans’ issues during his campaign, called their support “a great honour”.
Trump and Hillary Clinton will take part back-to-back in a national security forum on Wednesday. The forum, which will be hosted by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, will include questions from an audience of military service members.
The letter released on Tuesday by the Trump campaign, which was signed by four 4-star generals, states that military leaders believe he is “more trusted to be commander-in-chief than Hillary Clinton”.
“We believe that such a change can only be made by someone who has not been deeply involved with, and substantially responsible for, the hollowing out of our military and the burgeoning threats facing our country around the world,” they added.
Also on Tuesday, Mrs Clinton released a campaign ad featuring veterans who are critical of Mr Trump. Mrs Clinton’s ad includes a clip of Mr Trump from July 2015 casting doubt on Republican Senator John McCain’s war hero credentials. Arizona Senator McCain was tortured for more than five years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese.
Despite making support for the military a signature issue in his campaign, Mr Trump has at various times drawn criticism from military members. Most notably, he was involved in a spat with family members of a Muslim-American soldier killed during the Iraq War.
Mr Trump, who has not served in the military, created a stir last month when he accepted a veteran’s gift of a Purple Heart.
“I always wanted to get the Purple Heart,” he said of the medal, which is awarded to soldiers wounded in war. “This was much easier.”