Tonight, for the first time this election season, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will take the same stage to address questions. Tonight’s so-called Commander-in-Chief Forum will be hosted by NBC News and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. While the two candidates won’t be on the stage together — we’ll have to wait a few weeks for that — they both will be taking questions on national security, military affairs and veterans issues from NBC News and an audience comprised mainly of military veterans and active service members.
While Hillary no doubt has a “friendly” moderator this evening in Matt Lauer, turns out the audience may not be quite as warm, according to a new poll of U.S. military members which shows a sizable lead for Trump over Clinton.
As NBC News reports:
Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 19 points — 55 percent to 36 percent — among voters who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.
The poll was conducted online from August 29 through September 4 among 32,226 registered voters, including 3,358 who have previously served or are currently serving in the U.S. military.
Despite several controversial statements regarding war veteran Sen. John McCain and Trump’s criticism of the Khan family, the GOP nominee has worked hard to secure the support of veterans and U.S. military members. [Editor’s note: gotta love the way NBC has to bring up the negatives here to diminish Trump’s solid lead.] On Tuesday morning, a group of 88 retired generals and admirals signed a letter backing Trump to reverse the “hollowing out” of the U.S. military.
Clinton’s campaign, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that 95 retired generals and admirals have endorsed her presidential bid.
Though Trump comfortably earns the support of military-affiliated voters overall, Clinton is perceived more favorably on the use of nuclear weapons.
A sizable number of military and veteran voters say they would not be confident in Clinton or Trump’s ability to be an effective commander-in-chief of the nation’s military — but a slight majority would be confident in Trump (53 percent).
Overall, 47 percent of military and veteran voters said they would not be confident in Trump’s ability to serve as an effective commander-in-chief of the U.S. military. A slight majority (53 percent) of these voters would feel confident in his ability to serve effectively. [Editor’s note here again: notice how NBC leads with the negative here again.]
Among all registered voters, 59 percent would not be confident in his ability to serve as commander-in-chief of the military and just 39 percent would feel confident.
In contrast, just 35 percent of military and veteran voters would feel confident in former Secretary of State Clinton’s ability to serve as commander-in-chief. A large majority (64 percent) would not be confident in her ability.
Wow, just let that sink in for a moment. A large majority of the mean and women who serve, or have served, in uniform would not be confident in Hillary Clinton as commander in chief.
Among voters overall, a smaller majority (52 percent) said they would not be confident in her ability to serve. Just 46 percent said they would be confident.
Among voters overall, Trump does slightly better than Clinton (40 percent to 39 percent) on the handling of veterans issues. Among military and veteran voters, he does even better (53 percent to 28 percent).
Clinton makes up ground against Trump, however, on the issue of nuclear weapons.
Overall, more voters would trust Clinton to make the right decisions about the use of nuclear weapons (44 percent), but a quarter would not trust either her or Trump to handle these issues.
The bottom line: people who matter the most when it comes to who would be an effective commander in chief — those who will serve under him or her — are more confident in Donald Trump.
Let’s hope tonight’s forum allows our military members to pose genuine, substantive questions to help us all make a wise choice about who can best fulfill the President of the United States’ ultimate role — that of Commander in Chief.