WATERVILLE VALLEY, N.H. (AP) — Donald Trump got personal with New Hampshire voters Tuesday night, telling them of the guilt he sometimes feels for not serving in the Vietnam War and advising young people to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
“I always felt a little guilty, frankly, like other people who didn’t serve,” Trump said. “I had friends that served, and they’re very proud and some are no longer with us because of the fact that they served.”
Trump’s recent events have sometimes taken on a darker tone, with violent clashes between supporters and protesters and angry tirades against reporters in the room. But Tuesday evening’s event was more intimate, with frequent back-and-forths between Trump and audience members. He brought his usual bravado, but at times kept the audience near silence as he discussed where his patriotism comes from and what advice he’d give to young people seeking success.
“What makes you just love this country?” a man stood up and asked, prompting Trump’s reflection on the Vietnam War. He told the crowd he never served because of various deferments but came close to getting drafted near the end of the war.
Trump often talks about veterans on the campaign trail and reminds voters of his efforts to build the Vietnam War memorial in New York. He also called on U.S. politicians to be tougher in the war against the Islamic State and criticized rivals for saying his tone is too brash.
“That was a rough war, and there’s another war,” he said. “They’re chopping people’s heads off; if they’re Christian their heads are coming off in the Middle East. We need tough talk.”
Later, Trump offered a lengthy warning to young people about how drugs and alcohol can hamper their future success. Trump said he repeated one phrase to his children growing up: “No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes.”
“I see what it does to people when they lose control,” he said. “If you don’t drink and if you don’t take drugs, (you’re) going to have a tremendously enhanced chance of really being successful and having a good life and having a happy life.”
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