- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2019

White House hopeful and U.S. Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg took a jab at President Trump’s lack of military service after being accused of exaggerating his own time serving overseas.

Conservative commentator Mark Simone questioned Mr. Buttigieg’s military career Wednesday while guest hosting the radio show normally helmed by Fox News personality Sean Hannity, prompting the Democratic candidate to call attention later to the Republican incumbent’s nonexistent military record.

“You know, he’s got this fake military experience, which isn’t real,” Mr. Simone said on the show about the South Bend, Indiana, mayor recently surging in the polls among fellow Democratic presidential candidates.

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“He had a lot of clout with the local Army Reserve and he had them arrange for him to take a desk job on a base in Afghanistan,” Mr. Simone continued. “So for a few months he sat at a desk on a base, that’s all he did. No military combat, anything. Anything. That’s why he cannot produce a picture of himself in uniform in Afghanistan. There’s one picture of him in full military garb, but I checked into it. It’s taken at the airport in South Bend so it’s fake military experience.”

Mr. Buttigieg subsequently responded to the attack on Twitter later Wednesday.

“Everything about my experience in the military was abundantly real, from the boredom to the danger,” Mr. Buttigieg tweeted. “Now shall we talk about Donald Trump’s experiences with military service?”

Mr. Buttigieg, 37, enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2009. He started his first term as mayor in 2012, and he took a seven-month leave in 2014 to deploy to Afghanistan, where he served on a counterterrorism unit. He was reelected to a second term in 2015 launched his presidential campaign this past January.

Mr. Trump has not served in the military.

The results of several recent polls have placed Mr. Buttigieg among the top five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Mr. Trump in 2020, including an Iowa State University poll released Thursday that listed him in second place, trailing Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, and leading former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Mr. Buttigieg is not the only current presidential candidate with military experiences overseas. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat and fellow White House hopeful, has served in the U.S. Army, including during the second Iraq War, and remains a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Mr. Simone’s remarks were first reported by Media Matters for America.

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