Trump speaks to veter­ans at mo­tor­cy­clists’ rally

Business Mirror - - THE WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON— Don­ald Trump on Sun­day promised bet­ter health care, a stronger mil­i­tary and new do­na­tions to veter­ans’ causes as he spoke at the an­nual Rolling Thun­der mo­tor­cy­cle rally.

“We’re not win­ning now… we cer­tainly don’t win for our veter­ans,” the pre­sump­tive Repub­li­can nom­i­nee said to thou­sands of mo­tor­cy­clists gath­ered at the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial. “We are go­ing to start win­ning so much. We are go­ing to win, win, win.”

But the cheers and ap­plause Trump re­ceived from the veter­ans on Sun­day be­lied some bumps in his re­la­tion­ship with the vot­ing bloc after his re­marks about pris­on­ers of war and his fail­ure to turn over all the money he raised for veter­ans in Jan­uary.

Trump holds a 9- per­cent­age point lead with veter­ans over Demo­cratic front-run­ner Hil­lary Clin­ton, ac­cord­ing to a poll of more than 1,600 veter­ans con­ducted from May 13 to 24 by Morn­ing Con­sult. Four years ago, Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney led Pres­i­dent Barack Obama by 24 points among veter­ans, a Gallup sur­vey showed.

Trump echoed many of his cam­paign themes, pledg­ing to build a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der and mock­ing Clin­ton. Un­like other ral­lies, Sun­day’s event drew no vis­i­ble protest.

Trump promised to end long lines at Veter­ans Af­fairs hos­pi­tals and to an­nounce more about his do­na­tions to veter­ans groups on Tues­day. Trump’s com­ments come after he has been un­der scru­tiny in the me­dia for fail­ing to do­nate mil­lions of dollars he said he raised for veter­ans in Jan­uary at a fund- raiser he held in­stead of at­tend­ing a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial de­bate hosted by Fox News.

At the time, Trump said he raised $ 6 mil­lion for veter­ans, in­clud­ing $1 mil­lion from his own pocket. Re­ports since then have in­di­cated the to­tal was less and that Trump had yet to do­nate any of the money to veter­ans char­i­ties un­til this week when he gave his $1 mil­lion to the Marine Corp­sLaw En­force­ment Foun­da­tion.

Trump also an­gered some veter­ans when he in­sulted one of the most fa­mous pris­on­ers of war, for­mer Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee and Ari­zona Sen. John McCain. Trump said McCain is only a war hero “be­cause he was cap­tured.”

Max Lorenz, a Viet­nam vet­eran from Peek­skill, New York, said he’s been at­tend­ing Rolling Thun­der on and off for about eight years and that it was nice to see Trump show up this year.

“I haven’t seen a pres­i­dent here yet— any pres­i­dent,” he said. Trump “is a shoo- in, so I’m al­ready call­ing him pres­i­dent. So he’s one com­ing here and ad­dress­ing be­cause he cares about vets.

“And when I got out of Viet­nam, he do­nated to the Viet­nam veter­ans right off the bat,” Lorenz added. “He didn’t take any credit for it. I never for­got that, and that’s why he’s al­ways an ar­dent sup­porter for Viet­nam veter­ans and all veter­ans.”

Bill Pow­ers of Austin, Texas, who has been at­tend­ing Rolling Thun­der since the early 2000s, said he liked Trump’s speech, but wished he would elab­o­rate more on how he plans to fix things. “I be­lieve he will,” he added.

The an­nual Rolling Thun­der event started in 1988. Viet­nam vet­eran Ray Manzo or­ga­nized the first demon­stra­tion be­cause he was both­ered by re­ports of pris­on­ers of war who were left be­hind in Viet­nam and sol­diers whose re­mains were not be­ing re­turned to the United States for a proper burial. The event has since de­vel­oped into a larger demon­stra­tion show­ing sup­port for all cur­rent and for­mer armed ser­vice mem­bers.

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