Like many Republican politicians competing for the nation's highest office, Donald Trump spoke highly of the military during his campaign, promising to treat those serving better than any other candidate would do.
He even boycotted a Fox News debate, claiming that moderator Megyn Kelly had treated him unfairly at a previous debate and instead decided to host an event for veterans. He eventually donated $1 million he pledged during that event to a Marine charity.
His candidacy was well-received by conservatives who thought President Barack Obama had disrespected the armed services while in office. According to a Military Times poll, more than half of troops said they had an unfavorable opinion of Obama and his two terms leading the military.
And despite likening his prep school experience to serving in the military, receiving multiple deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam and controversially denigrating Republican Sen. John McCain's time as a prisoner of war, Trump was generally viewed favorably by those with military experience.
So given how vocal Trump was about his support for the military, his silence after the Oct. 4 ambush in southwestern Niger in which four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed was noticeable. He finally commented on the incident Monday — 12 days after it happened.
Asked by a reporter about his delayed response, Trump said he had written letters over the weekend and would “at some point” call the families of the fallen soldiers. He also said of Obama and other previous presidents that “a lot of them didn't make calls,” an assertion former Obama aides forcefully denied. He did not explain why it had taken so long to publicly acknowledge the incident.
CNN reported over the weekend that Trump was golfing while the remains of La David Johnson, one of the four killed in the attack, were returned to Dover Air Force Base, a juxtaposition critics pounced on.
More below in comments!