Trump Announces 88 Top Former Military Officials Backing Him. Romney Had 500.

A YUGE drop!

Ross D. Franklin/AP


Remember the Democratic convention, when Hillary Clinton was ringingly endorsed by a squad of top former military officials, led by retired General John Allen, who delivered one of the more rousing speeches of the week? That event and a host of subsequent endorsements from former military leaders and foreign policy experts have made it seem that Clinton has the edge over Donald Trump in drawing national security professionals to her cause. (Last month, a group of 50 GOP national security wonks signed a letter declaring that Trump “would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”) Now Trump is fighting back. On Monday, he released a list of 88 former generals and admirals who back his presidential bid.

The New York Times notes that a handful of these Trumpers are “known for making controversial statements. The paper cites retired Lt. General William Boykin, “who was criticized by President George W. Bush for describing the battle against Islamist terrorists as a religious proxy fight between a ‘Christian nation’ and the ‘idol’ of Islam.” It also points out that retired Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, a Fox News analyst who is on the list, “has previously submitted court documents challenging President Obama’s eligibility to serve as president, accusing him of not having been born in the United States, an accusation Mr. Trump himself once raised.” (Once raised? How about championed like a conspiracy-theory wingnut?)

It’s no surprise that a Republican candidate who has bashed the Iran nuclear deal and called for spending more money on the military could round up this band of former generals and admirals. But here’s the real story: Mitt Romney, during the 2012 campaign, had 500 retired generals and admirals on his side. That group took out an ad in the Washington Times to show their support for the then-Republican nominee. And the Romney crew had much more star power than Trump’s posse. As the Washington Times then reported, “The [Romney] list contains a number of prominent four-star admirals and generals, including five former members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

So as Trump preps—or doesn’t prep—for a candidates forum on national security hosted by NBC and MSNBC on Wednesday night, the news really isn’t that he found four score and eight retired military officers to back him; it’s that this is a significant drop from the amount of support that the last GOP nominee attracted from retired military bigwigs. In fact, it’s a huge retreat.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.