Clinton And Trump In Arms Race Over Military Endorsements

Sep 7, 2016

White House rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are bringing out the brass, in hopes some military polish will burnish their own national security credentials.

Clinton today released a list of 95 retired generals and admirals who have endorsed her presidential bid. Trump released a similar list on Tuesday, featuring 88 retired officers.

The military arms race comes as the candidates are preparing for a nationally-televised "Commander-in-Chief" forum tonight on NBC.

Both camps are trying to show they have what it takes to face America's adversaries and defend the country, while questioning the judgement and experience of the rival candidate.

"This is not about Democrat or Republican," said retired Air Force General Lloyd "Fig" Newton in a statement. "Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that has the experience, temperament, critical thinking and level-headed leadership to keep America safe and our partnerships strong."

Trump's campaign offered its own statement of support from retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. "Mr. Trump's deep and growing support in the military community and his thoughtful proposals show he's the right person to lead our men and women in uniform," Flynn said.

Trump has yet to offer a concrete proposal for combating ISIS. Campaigning in Virginia and North Carolina Tuesday, Trump said he would give military leaders thirty days to develop such a plan soon after he takes office.

Retired Rear Admiral Philip Anselmo, who's backing Trump, says it would unwise to telegraph that plan too far in advance. "One of the things that you don't do when dealing with an enemy like this — a group of terrorists — you don't commit your plan and your details," Anselmo told NPR's Morning Edition.

Anselmo also criticized Clinton's handling of classified material when she used a private server to send and receive email as secretary of state.

Clinton's military backers argue that Trump's proposed ban on Muslim immigrants would alienate U.S. allies in the Middle East. They defend Clinton's record as steady and experienced.

I testified before the...secretary when she was a senator," Newton told Morning Edition. "And I know the kind of penetrating questions she can ask and how she gets right to the issues."

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