President Trump has sparked a new wave of criticism over his treatment of members of the military after suggesting he may have caught the coronavirus from Gold Star families.
With the presidential election now less than a month away and Trump trailing in both national polls and key battleground states, the president can ill afford more incidents that generate negative headlines and risk alienating any service members, veterans or other military supporters.
The latest self-inflicted wound came when Trump said he thinks an event at the White House that honored families of slain service members could be the source of his COVID-19 infection.
“I figured there would be a chance that I would catch it,” Trump said in a phone interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. “Sometimes I’d be with, in groups of, for instance, Gold Star families. I met with Gold Star families. I didn’t want to cancel that. But they all came in, and they all talked about their son and daughter and father.”
“And I can’t back up, Maria, and say, ‘Give me room. I want room. Give me 12 feet. Stay 12 feet away when you talk.’ They come within an inch of my face sometimes,” he added.
“They want to hug me, and they want to kiss me. And they do. And frankly, I’m not telling them to back up. I’m not doing it. But I did say it’s like — it’s obviously dangerous. It’s a dangerous thing I guess if you go by the COVID thing,” he said.
Trump appeared to be alluding to a Sept. 27 event at the White House for Gold Star families. One person who was at that event is known to have since tested positive for the virus: Coast Guard Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray.
None of the Gold Star families are known to have since tested positive as of Friday