Donald Trump’s campaign on Tuesday morning released a letter announcing the endorsement of the Republican nominee by “88 retired U.S. Generals and Admirals.”
Seems impressive, right? Eighty-eight generals and admirals sounds like a lot of military leaders, all rallying around the tough-talking, law-and-order candidate pledging to restore greatness to America’s armed forces.
Well, it’s actually not.
Compare Trump’s haul of 88 to the 500 retired generals and admirals who took out a full-page ad in support of Mitt Romney on the eve of the 2012 presidential election. Romney had some big names, too. The group of 500 included Army General Hugh Shelton, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bill Clinton, as well as a former commandant of the Marine Corps and an Air Force chief of staff. In total, five ex-members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff backed Romney over President Obama. There are nearly 900 active general and flag officers in the military and thousands of retirees.
This is not to impugn the 88 former military leaders backing Trump, all of whom presumably served the United States with dignity and honor. Organizing the letter, according to the Trump campaign, were Rear Admiral Charles Williams, a Vietnam veteran awarded the Legion of Merit, and Major General Sydney Shachnow, a former Green Beret who was the first Holocaust survivor to become a U.S. general. Trump, Shachnow said in a statement, “has the temperament to become commander-in-chief.” Williams said the point of making the letter public was to show that military leaders trust Trump over Clinton to lead the nation’s armed forces.