Political Editors / Jan. 29, 2016

Trump Didn’t Want to Be at His Own Veterans Benefit

“But you have to stick up for your rights.”

As with his 9/11-card play in the last debate, Donald Trump’s veteran-card play is nothing more than a crass political charade. While seven GOP candidates had a policy-focused debate Tuesday night, Trump eschewed questioning from Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and instead held an event cross town that was supposedly to benefit veterans. But Trump admitted the event really wasn’t for the men and women who risked their lives for the country. It was all about him. “I didn’t want to be here, I have to be honest,” Trump said. “I wanted to be about five minutes away. … But you have to stick up for your rights. When you’re treated badly, you have to stick up for your rights.”

Trump was betting that he was the only reason the large broadcast news organizations were getting good ratings during the televised debates. But viewer estimates and the number of people searching Google for live streams of the debate versus Trump’s event show that the debate was still more popular than the frontrunner’s stunt. As for the event, it was as phony as Hillary Clinton’s email security. His staff quickly posted a webpage, “Donald Trump for Vets,” asking visitors to “Honor their valor. Donate now to help our Veterans.” But the proceeds go to Trump’s personal foundation, which has given more than $100,000 to draft-dodging Bill Clinton and his wife — far more than to veterans’ causes.

Oh, and if Trump showed up for the debate, perhaps Kelly could have asked him why he wanted veterans, who are doing their best to make ends meet as street vendors, kicked off of 5th Avenue. Trump wrote a letter to his leftist friend, former mayor Michael Bloomberg, complaining of the vendors, “Whether they are veterans or not, they should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street. The image of New York City will suffer.” He concluded, “I hope you can stop this very deplorable situation before it is too late.” The same could be said of his candidacy.

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