At the start of his Virginia rally on Tuesday, Donald Trump invited a military veteran on stage after he presented the GOP nominee with his Purple Heart.
“A man came up to me and handed me his Purple Heart,” Trump recounted after bringing the man, who he identified as a lieutenant colonel, on stage. “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”
Trump also said he asked the veteran if the medal, which is awarded to servicemembers who are wounded or killed, was real or a copy, and said the man told him it was the real deal. Trump said the man told him, “‘I have such confidence in you.’ And I said, man, that’s big stuff.”
But NBC News’ Katy Tur reported shortly afterward that the veteran told her the medal was a copy of his Purple Heart.
At the height of the Vietnam War, Trump received five draft deferments, four for his ongoing college education and one for a “temporary” foot condition he told the New York Times later “healed up.”
The campaign event exchange took place amid days of criticism of Trump from Gold Star families and other military officials after he repeatedly disparaged Khizr Khan, who spoke on the DNC stage and whose son was killed fighting in Iraq. On Monday, the normally apolitical Veterans of Foreign Wars condemned Trump for “berating a Gold Star family.”
Watch Trump’s remarks via Politico:
— POLITICO (@politico) August 2, 2016
This post has been updated.