There are more than 20 million troops and veterans in the United States. And according to TIME, they made up about ten percent of all potential voters in 2012. A number of major swing states have an especially large number of veterans in their population.
In a Military Times survey released in May, troops preferred Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton by a two-to-one margin. But many military personnel have criticized the Republican nominee for questioning Senator John McCain’s service. And since last week, Trump has been locked in a strange media feud with the parents of a slain soldier.
What issues are weighing on the minds of veterans and troops as they get ready to head to the polls in November? And do these recent controversies make a difference in their minds?
The two Iraq War veterans in the state Legislature, one Democrat and one Republican, join Detroit Today to talk about the presidential election.
“I certainly don’t support everything Donald Trump ever says,” says state Rep. Tom Barrett (R-Potterville), who is currently serving in the Michigan Army National Guard as a helicopter pilot.
Barrett says while he can’t defend what Trump says about veterans, ”I do think that the lack of political correctness Donald Trump brings… some people find that refreshing.”
Still, “I don’t think Donald Trump is positioning himself well by doing this,” says Barrett.
“I think it’s bigger than just the veterans issue for me,” says state Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn), who served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Scout Sniper Platoon member of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Knezek says he cares less about how Trump says things, and more about where he stands on the issues for veterans, women, minorities.
To hear more of the conversation, click on the audio player above.