NBC News and the non-profit group Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran’s of America (IAVA) announced Thursday that Republican and Democratic presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have agreed to appear at a “commander-in-chief forum” on September 7 in New York.
The event comes nearly three weeks before the first presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y., on September 26. Each candidate will appear on stage separately for a half-hour, answering questions from NBC and MSNBC personalities and the audience which will primarily be comprised of veterans and active military members.
IAVA founder and CEO, Paul Rieckhoff, said in a press release that the forum will, “ensure that America’s next commander-in-chief, at least for one night, addresses our nation’s moral obligation to support and empower its 22 million veterans”.
Criticism of both major party candidates’ character and experience has been leveled from the media and fellow politicians alike in regards to their fitness to lead the most powerful military in world history. Donald Trump, for example, received deferment status during the Vietnam War era and has had questions raised about his temperament, while Clinton mishandled classified information, including state secrets, on her private email account while serving as Secretary of State during President Obama’s first term.
How each candidate presents themselves in this area may determine the outcome of the election, as both have record low favorability ratings, presumably based on the public’s perception of their character flaws.
According to Rieckhoff, 93 percent of IAVA’s 183,000 members plan to vote in November.
Recent polls of active military members show dissatisfaction with both candidates, with Trump beating Clinton handily in a Military Times July survey despite a 61 percent disapproval rating to Clinton’s 82 percent.
An unscientific poll of approximately 3,500 active military members released in late-July showed a plurality of support for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson with 38.7 percent to Trump’s 30.9 and Clinton’s 14.1.
Founded in 2004, IAVA helps returning Middle East veterans get the mental and physical help they may need and has “provided more than 5,000 veterans with personalized support from . . . Master’s-level social workers.”
[Washington Post] [NewsMax] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy cbo.gov]