During Donald Trump’s Thursday NBC town hall, the head of state doubled down on his decision to retweet a QAnon conspiracy theory that Osama bin Laden is alive. According to The Hill, the decision could alienate military voters ahead of the election, which is less than three weeks away.
Gary Schmitt, a national security expert with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the retweets are “certainly not going to help him.”
“Most of the folks in the military are there voluntarily, they’re career, they’re not just there for during the term of one president. They have a good sense that they’ve dedicated themselves to a certain life and the president seems to be suggesting that, outside anything else, they’ve been fooled.”
Robert O’Neill, a former Navy SEAL who has publicly supported Trump and claimed he killed bin Laden in the 2011 raid, pushed back on the head of state’s comments.
“Very brave men said [goodbye] to their kids to go kill Osama bin Laden. We were given the order by President Obama.”
O’Neill said there was no body double used in the operation and concluded his Tuesday statement by thanking Trump.
Despite pushback, Trump defended his decision to amplify the theory.
“That was an opinion of somebody and that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves,” he said during his town hall.
As noted by The Hill, an earlier sign of possible trouble for Trump with the military voting bloc came when The Atlantic claimed that he disparaged American troops who died fighting for their country. The head of state claimed the reporting was false and subsequently accused the Department of Defense of engaging in military action abroad to appease defense contractors.
In a USA Today op-ed, Dr. Dean Taylor, a representative for the Service Academy Physicians for Biden, urged military physicians to support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over Trump. He highlighted the challenges that these doctors face in their profession and pointed to Trump’s alleged plans to destroy the Affordable Care Act and his administration’s failures amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to Taylor, he and the former doctors he represents believe that the Democrat has the dedication and compassion necessary to address modern health care challenges and successfully guide the country through the pandemic.
A Military Times poll found in August that Biden was ahead of Trump among active-duty military members. Specifically, 43.1 percent said they would vote for the Democratic candidate at the time, while 37.4 said they would support the current U.S. leader.