Donald Tump’s Thanksgiving Day gratitude message to U.S. troops overseas took a decidedly political slant Thursday as he ticked off military successes he attributed to himself, and referred to his “big, fat, beautiful tax cuts.”
“They say we’ve made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration, and that’s because I’m letting you do your job,” Trump told forces in Turkey, according to the White House pool report.
Addressing Marines in Iraq, Trump said, “We’re being talked about again as an armed forces. We’re really winning. They weren’t letting you win before … we’re letting you win.”
Trump, who announced in August that he would add an additional 4,000 troops in Afghanistan, told service members there: “Everybody is talking about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up … We said go ahead, we’re going to fight to win. We’re not fighting anymore to just walk around.”
Trump made the remarks in a video call from his Mar-a-Lago golf resort, where he was spending the holiday, to service members in five branches of the military, including those stationed in Kuwait and on the USS Monterey.
“I know I speak on behalf of all Americans when I say that we totally support you — in fact, we love you. We really do. We love you,” Trump said.
Trump also plugged his tax package, saying he’s working on “big, fat, beautiful tax cuts,” and boasted that the economy is “doing great. … So you’re fighting for something real, you’re fighting for something good.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling called Trump’s remarks “off-kilter” on CNN.
While Trump insisted the military was finally “winning” thanks to his administration, Hertling said: “We have been winning.”
“You’re talking to soldiers and military personnel around the world who have been in this fight for 17 years, and to suddenly be told that they’re winning now when they weren’t winning before is somewhat insulting,” Hertling said. Also, deployed service members don’t want to hear about the economy, he said. “They want to hear, ‘Hey, thanks, for what you’re doing.’”
After the video call, Trump traveled to a Coast Guard base near Mar-a-Lago to hand out sandwiches and congratulate the service for improving its “brand.”
There’s “no brand that went up more than the Coast Guard, with what happened in Texas,” he said, referring to Coast Guard efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
While there, he boasted that the Air Force was “ordering a lot of planes, in particular the F-35 fighter jet, which is, you know, almost like an invisible fighter,” according to a pool report. “I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, how good is this plane?” Trump said. “They said, well, sir, you can’t see it.’ … I said, ‘That helps. That’s a good thing.’”
The F-35 isn’t actually invisible, but it’s designed to evade detection by radar and other sensors.
The president also traveled to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach before returning to Mar-a-Lago for his Thanksgiving meal.