In response to presidential candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to participate in tonight’s debate and instead hold a fundraiser for military veterans, one veterans group accused the real estate mogul of pulling a “political stunt” and told him to keep his donations.
Donald Trump’s boycotting of the Fox News/Google debate tonight in Iowa stems from his feud with the Fox network, and most notably its highest rated program host Megyn Kelly. However, Trump’s campaign is denying his refusal to participate in the debate has anything to do with Kelly.
In a statement released by Donald Trump’s campaign, it was revealed that the Republican presidential contender would hold a “special event” for veterans in place of attending the debate. The statement read, in part:
“He will not be participating in the FOX News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians. Like running for office as an extremely successful person, this takes guts and it is the kind of mentality our country needs in order to Make America Great Again.”
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has stated that they want no part in Trump’s fundraising event, something they’ve called a “political stunt.” Here’s what IAVA founder Paul Rieckhoff had to say:
If offered, @IAVA will decline donations from Trump's event. We need strong policies from candidates, not to be used for political stunts.
— Paul (PJ) Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) January 27, 2016
This isn’t the first time IAVA have come out against Donald Trump. In July of 2015, Trump made some controversial comments about Senator John McCain. At the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Trump stated in regards to McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America immediately demanded an apology from Trump. On their website, a petition entitled “Demand that Trump Apologize Immediately to All Veterans Everywhere” read, in part:
“Stand with IAVA and demand that Trump apologize immediately to all veterans everywhere.
In the last couple of days, presidential hopeful Donald Trump has shown that there are still people who have never served but still make ridiculous, insulting comments about veterans. Comments that should have been left behind long ago, in the dark days after Vietnam of blaming the warriors for the war. Trump’s asinine comments about Sen. John McCain’s service are an insult to everyone who has ever worn the uniform — and to all Americans.
A public attack on one veteran’s service is an attack on us all. Trump’s attack on Sen. McCain’s service is especially egregious given their timing — right after the murder of one sailor and four Marines last week in Chattanooga, Tenn.”
Trump’s controversial comments came in the wake of a shooting that took place at two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16, 2015. Four U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor were killed in the incident.