A Democratic congressional candidate who fought in the Iraq War and was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained there slammed Donald Trump on Tuesday, after the GOP nominee said he’d “always wanted” to get the medal.
Speaking at a campaign event in Virginia, Trump thanked an Iraq War veteran who had given him his Purple Heart as a gift prior to taking the stage.
“I said to him, ‘Is that like the real one or is that a copy? And he said, ‘That’s my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you,’” Trump said in Ashburn, Virginia. “And I said, ‘Man that’s big stuff.’ I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier, but I tell you it was such an honor.”
The comment drew the ire of Sean Barney, a Democrat running for Congress in Delaware who was shot in the neck by a sniper while on patrol with the Marine Corps in Fallujah.
“Today, a Donald Trump supporter handed him a Purple Heart. Trump’s flippant and repugnant reply: ‘I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier,’” Barney wrote in a post on Facebook. “As someone who fought for our country in Iraq, was injured, and was awarded a Purple Heart, I can tell you, no one should ever ‘want’ to get a Purple Heart.”
“Again and again, Donald Trump has proven that he is unfit to be the Commander in Chief of our armed forces. As Khizr Khan poignantly argued, Donald Trump has not sacrificed for this country and he does not understand duty to any cause other than himself,” Barney added, referring to the father of a Muslim American war hero who last week addressed the Democratic convention.
Barney also included a photo of himself holding up his Purple Heart. The medal is awarded to those injured or killed while serving the country.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) tweeted a response to Trump’s Purple Heart remark as well.
Trump’s comment about the Purple Heart comes amid heated debate over his understanding of military sacrifice. The Pakistani-born Khan rebuked the Manhattan real estate mogul last week for his proposal to ban Muslim immigration, adding he had “sacrificed nothing and no one,” a reference to Khan’s son who died in combat.
Pressed to respond on Sunday, Trump told ABC News that he had “made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done― I’ve had― I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”
Trump’s comments on Tuesday also come in the wake of a New York Times report detailing the Manhattan real estate mogul’s draft deferments during the Vietnam War. He received four education deferments and one medical deferment due to a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels.