Veterans Groups Balk at Donald Trump's “Political Stunt”

 ·  Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair   ·   Link to Article

Bllionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump, who some estimate is either crazy or a genius, or possibly both, will host a fund-raising event in Iowa for veterans groups Thursday to compete with the G.O.P. debate he was once scheduled to attend.

But some veterans groups are saying Trump shouldn’t bother. “Let me put this in language Donald Trump understands,” Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org and an Iraq war veteran, wrote in a statement. “You’re a loser. You’re a third-rate politician, who clearly doesn’t understand issues, and is so scared of Megyn Kelly exposing it, that you’re looking to use veterans to protect you from facing her questions.”

Trump announced Tuesday that he would no longer participate inThursday night’s Republican debate on Fox News, saying the network, andFox host Megyn Kelly in particular, had mistreated his campaign. The feud dates back to August, when Kelly asked Trump a question about sexism at the first Fox News G.O.P. debate, a perceived offensefrom which he has yet to move on.

Instead, Trump decided to throw the Donald J. Trump Special Event for Veterans, which he says will raise money for veterans groups just three miles down the road from where Fox will hold its debate. Trump’s campaign has not specified which veterans groups he will be donating to, though he said any proceeds will be spread around to a number of different organizations. He tweeted a link to a fund-raising page on Thursday afternoon.

Trump’s rally has been criticized by some as political theater that is taking advantage of veterans and using them as props.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and C.E.O. of the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, is disappointed that the campaign has resorted to “political stunts” centered around veterans.

A spokesman for the non-partisan organization said it has no knowledge of Trump’s plans. The Wounded Warrior Project told CBS that it wasn’t aware of whether the candidate was raising money to support its organization.

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