To a red carpet welcome US President Donald Trump landed in Hanoi, Vietnam. Trump arrived hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in the Vietnamese capital by customized armored train and limousine for their second summit. (Feb. 26)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has a complicated history with Vietnam, the country he arrived in Tuesday ahead of his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
He’s blasted trade with the country and got out of being deployed there during the Vietnam War due to bone spurs. Trump has also boasted about the beauty of the country and reveled in the sharp turn in relations that allowed the U.S. and Vietnam to go from enemies to friends.
Here’s a rundown of some of Trump’s comments about Vietnam.
‘Dating is like being in Vietnam’
Trump, decades before he was the President of the United States, was a frequent guest on Howard Stern’s radio show.
In 2003, Trump compared dating and having sex with serving in the military, specifically to the war in Vietnam, which killed about 60,000 Americans and left another 1,600 who are still unaccounted for.
Trump said the dangers of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases was the “equivalent” of serving overseas.
“Dating is like being in Vietnam. Dating is like being in Vietnam. It’s the equivalent of a soldier going over to Vietnam. It’s like war out there,” Trump said.
He added during the interview that if one felt guilty about not serving, one should just date a lot.
“You know, if you’re young and a [Inaudible] and if you have any guilt about not having gone to Vietnam, we have our own Vietnam. It’s the dating [inaudible],” Trump said.
Trump then claimed that one could get AIDS by kissing, a false claim that the CDC has debunked.
Trump repeated his comparison of dating being similar to serving in the Vietnam War several other times on Stern’s show, including in 2004 in 1997.
In 2004, he added the Iraq war to the comparison, telling Stern, “I tell my sons just to get a nice girlfriend and be happy because it’s dangerous out there. It’s Vietnam. I guess now we can say it’s Iraq—same deal, right?”
In 1997, Trump was asked about his dating habits and whether he’d ever been checked out by a doctor out of fear of getting a sexually transmitted disease.
“You know, I tell you, It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky, in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there, like Vietnam, sort of like.”
A friendship after war
When Trump met in Vietnam with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong in 2017, he remarked on the history between the country and the U.S. and highlighted how far the nations have come.
Trump said the people of Vietnam “greeted us with such respect and, really, such affection” then went into how things have changed since the Vietnam War.
“The relationship is so healed. And to think where we were and where we’ve come is a tribute to both countries,” Trump said. “And we’re both going to do very well for our people. Trade has become a very important element of our relationship and it will continue onward.”
Trump has railed against the country’s trade policies several times over the years.
Iraq war made Vietnam ‘look like a good war’
While appearing on Howard Stern’s show in 2006, Trump brought up the Vietnam War while discussing his daughter Ivanka’s dating habits.
When the names Lance Armstrong and Mark Cuban were brought up as potential suitors, Trump said both were not good enough for her daughter, saying she prefers “handsome people.”
Stern then posed the question: What if you had a choice between Mark Cuban or Osama bin Laden dating your daughter?
Trump said neither and the conversation segued into discussing the war in Iraq.
“Believe me, Iraq is the biggest disaster ever,” he said on the show, adding, “It’s making Vietnam look like a good war.”
First Medal of Honor recipient Vietnam vet
Trump presented his first Medal of Honor honor as president to a Vietnam combat veteran who risked his life on nine separate occasions to rescue wounded soldiers.
Former Specialist Five James C. McCloughan exhibited conspicuous gallantry during 48 hours of close-quarter combat near Don Que, Vietnam, on May 13-15, 1969.
McCloughan, then a 23-year-old medic, “suffered wounds from shrapnel and small arms fire on three separate occasions, but refused medical evacuation to stay with his unit, and continued to brave enemy fire to rescue, treat, and defend wounded Americans,” the White House said in a statement.
“Jim, I know I speak for every person here when I say that we are in awe of your actions and your bravery,” Trump said at a 2017 ceremony. “Jim fought with all of the love and courage in his soul. He was prepared to lay down his life so his brothers-in-arms could live theirs.”
Serving in the war?
Trump has been asked quite a few times about his military record. The president never served and argued he was in school during the Vietnam War.
Trump received five deferments from the draft for military service during the war. He received four education deferments while he was a college student and a fifth deferment in 1968 for a medical exemption after he graduated.
During an interview with NBC News in 1999, Trump went into detail about the war and him not serving.
“Well, I got very lucky. We had lottery numbers. And I guess this was my biggest factor of luck in my life, because during the Vietnam War, I had a very, very high — my date, which was June 14th, was a very high date in the lottery, so I never got drafted, so I was very lucky,” Trump said.
In 2016 when Trump was running for the White House, the issue was brought up during an interview Trump did on the radio show Imus in the Morning.
Trump again pointed out he was in school and said to commemorate those who did serve in the war, he helped build a memorial to those killed in New York.
“I understand that. I do feel that, you know, one of the reasons I was very much involved in building the Vietnam Memorial in New York is you know you probably remember and to this day, I mean everybody people that fought in Vietnam are always thanking me for that. But I did that because I really wanted to do something. You know, I wanted to do something but I did I had student deferments,” Trump said.
But despite criticism that he didn’t serve, Trump says he doesn’t regret it because the war “was a mistake.”
“I had a good draft number and you know, so frankly I’m very you know, I feel fine about it. The Vietnam War was a war that was a mistake. It was big mistake, a horrible mistake just like Iraq was a mistake,” Trump said.
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