Pete Buttigieg Says He’ll Force Donald Trump To Explain Why He Faked ‘Bone Spurs’ To Get Out Of Vietnam

In Tuesday night's Democratic debate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg promised that if he were to debate Donald Trump, he would make him explain his Vietnam deferments.

Pete Buttigieg debates.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

In Tuesday night's Democratic debate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg promised that if he were to debate Donald Trump, he would make him explain his Vietnam deferments.

In Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday that was largely dominated by the panel of CNN moderators cutting off candidates in the middle of their answers — as New York Magazine, which called the network’s debate format “awful,” documented — South Bend, Indiana, was able to get in a unique campaign promise, one that none of the other nine candidates on the stage at Detroit, Michigan’s historic Fox Theatre was able to match.

Buttigieg, a military veteran of the war in Afghanistan, promised to force Donald Trump to explain how he avoided serving in the Vietnam war, as The Independent newspaper reported. Buttigieg accused Trump of faking a disability to get out of serving.

“Nominate me,” Buttigieg said during the Tuesday debate, “and you get to see the president of the United States stand next to an American war veteran and explain why he chose to pretend to be disabled when it was his chance to serve.”

In 1968 at the age of 22, as The New York Times reported, Donald Trump graduated college. He also had a clean bill of health, with no medical issues since he had his appendix removed when he was 10-years-old.

But upon graduating, Trump became eligible for the military draft, and would likely have been sent to fight in the then-raging Vietnam war. In 1968, 16,899 Americans died in Vietnam, more than in any other year of the war and a rate of more than 46 every day, according to The Vietnam War Info site.

Donald Trump speaks to reporters.
Donald Trump claimed to have ‘bone spurs’ in order to get out of serving in Vietnam. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

At that point, as The Times reported, Trump suddenly received a new medical diagnosis — “bone spurs” in his heels. “The diagnosis resulted in a coveted 1-Y medical deferment that fall, exempting him from military service,” The Times reported.

Buttigieg’s accusation that Trump faked the bone spurs diagnosis was not a surprise. Two daughters of Larry Braunstein, the podiatrist who handed the young Trump the diagnosis that kept him out of Vietnam, said last year that their father gave him the “bone spurs” excuse as a “favor” to Trump’s father, New York real estate tycoon Fred Trump, who was Braunstein’s landlord, according to a USA Today report.

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Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michel Cohen testified under oath in February that Trump admitted to him that the bone spurs diagnosis was faked, The Military Times reported.

“You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam,” Trump told Cohen, according to the former lawyer’s testimony.

In an interview in June, however, Trump claimed that “would’ve been honored” to serve in Vietnam, as quoted by CBS News.