Donald Trump told a Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally on Sunday that the government often takes better care of people in the U.S. illegally than the nation’s military veterans.
“We’re not going to allow that to happen any longer,” Trump told supporters gathered at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
Trump did not back up his assertion. Congress and many states have written an assortment of laws and policies designed to restrict government services to people in the country illegally.
Nonetheless, the Rolling Thunder crowd, dedicated to remembering prisoners of war and those missing in action, cheered. It was a sign, perhaps, that some veterans groups are stepping past their anger over Trump’s comments last year in which he said he likes “people who weren’t captured” in wars. That had been a dig at Arizona Sen. John McCain, who had been captured and held for more than five years during the Vietnam War. Trump claimed that McCain was a “war hero because he was captured.” Trump has refused to apologize to McCain.
Many veterans groups were furious, but since then Trump has worked to try to repair the damage. He frequently honors veterans at his rallies and he has come out with a plan to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also held a fundraiser for veterans’ causes in place of an Iowa debate that he skipped. Still, Trump, who avoided the draft through a series of deferments, drew scrutiny for not immediately distributing the $6 million he’d claimed to raise, including $1 million he’d pledged himself.
He is expected to hold a news conference Tuesday to announce the name of the charities selected to receive the money.
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