Before GOP Presumptive Presidential Nominee Donald Trump even has time to bask in the glory of his new title, more than 50 veterans rallied together recently to demand he “show them the money” he raised for veterans earlier this year.
As you may recall, Trump boycotted the seventh GOP debate in January and instead held a fundraiser for veterans during which he supposedly raised approximately $6 million.
In March when it was reported that Trump had donated less than half of the money promised veterans, his campaign spokeswoman wrote in an email, “If the media spent half as much time highlighting the work of these groups and how our veterans have been so mistreated, rather than trying to disparage Mr. Trump’s generosity for a totally unsolicited gesture for which he had no obligation, we would all be better for it.”
Now, a couple of months later, believing there is still approximately $3 million that has not been released, 50 veterans are asking Trump to show respect for the country’s veterans and release the remainder of the funds.
The statement signed by veterans also includes signatures of Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego and Seth Moulton. The two democratic leaders are claiming that Trump’s campaign has no idea where the money raised during the fundraiser has gone. A report released in March indicates that about $3 million was given to 24 charities.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign seems to question the authenticity of Trump’s affinity for veterans’ causes when it said, “Donald Trump recently discovered a new love for America’s veterans, promising that a Trump administration will ‘treat them really, really well.”
While I agree any funds raised on behalf of veterans should have been promptly distributed and some veterans may feel disrespected, I can’t help but wonder if the 50 veterans and those involved in the release of the statement are Democrats who want to give the presumptive GOP nominee another black-eye in his already divided campaign among GOP voters who do not back Trump.
Perhaps some Democrats sense that this is the time to strike and give Trump a taste of his own medicine since GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently indicated that he wasn’t ready to endorse Trump in his bid for the presidency.
“To be perfectly candid, I’m just not ready to do that at this point,” Ryan said in a CNN interview. “I’m not there right now.” Ryan’s statement was made shortly after his former running mate Mitt Romney indicated that he would not be attending the GOP convention scheduled later this year in Cleveland, Ohio.
Ryan, is only one of a number of individuals who have come out recently against Trump. President George W. Bush has promised to skip the convention this year and former President George H.W. Bush has indicated he will do likewise. Others in the GOP reportedly plan to miss the convention as well because they feel they are unable to support Trump.
However, Trump recently gained support in a prominent individual. Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has indicated that he will support Trump because he always supports the GOP nominee and always will.
Should Ryan and others support Trump as the presumptive presidential nominee?
My opinion is that if you are a member of congress and also a member of the Republican Party, then you “must” unify the party and endorse the presumptive GOP presidential nominee whether you like him or not. I believe that Ryan was out of order when he recently declared that he was not ready to endorse Trump. As a leader within the GOP, Ryan has an obligation to bring the party together and support its nominee. Ryan the citizen, however, is free to vote any way he chooses.
I believe the same holds true for others like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain who have not supported Trump. As senators, they are obligated to unify and support the presidential nominee. As private citizens, just as with Ryan, they are free to vote for whomever they choose.
If the majority of the Republican party cannot unify behind Trump, then the only solution is a contested convention. However, there does not seem to be a great disparity in those who support or don’t support Trump within the GOP.
As for the former presidents and former presidential candidates, they are private citizens and are under no obligation to support the nominee.
Does any of this matter to Trump? Will he care that some veterans may genuinely feel disrespected or that a GOP division gives some Democrats hope they can divide the party even further?
Many veterans are convinced that Trump supports them and will help them if he wins the presidency. As for the division among GOP voters, Trump has said before, “This country, which is very, very divided in so many different ways, is going to become one beautiful and loving country.” If he believes it, it must be true, right?
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