RICHMOND, VIRGINIA — Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, responded to President Trump on Tuesday, saying that the president should stop tweeting.
Northam was responding to a series of tweets Trump posted from Asia on Tuesday morning. In them, Trump called Northam — a pediatrician and veteran — “weak on our GREAT VETS.”
“I don’t know what the president’s doing in Asia, but I would encourage him to stop tweeting and do the work of this country, act like a president, and show leadership,” Northam told ThinkProgress on Tuesday afternoon.
“I graduated from Virginia Military Institute,” Northam continued. “I took a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army and I served in Desert Storm during that conflict. I’m just proud of to have worn the uniform, I’m proud to be a veteran, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that Virginia is the most veteran-friendly state in the country.”
Trump, on the other hand, never served in the military. When he was in college from 1964-1968, he received four draft deferments for education. He then received a medical deferment for bone spurs on the heel of his foot in 1968. He later described trying to avoid sexually transmitted diseases during this era of his life as his “personal Vietnam.”
During his conversation with ThinkProgress, Northam also called out Republican Ed Gillespie’s racial dogwhistling. The GOP candidate has released ads stoking racial tensions by claiming Northam is responsible for an increase in violence by the El Salvadorian MS-13 gang and insinuating that Northam wants to restore rights for dangerous child predators.
Northam called the ads “despicable” and told ThinkProgress that Virginians “see through that.”
“That’s not what this United States of America is about and that’s not what Virginia is about,” Northam said. “The ads that we’ve been seeing that promote fear-mongering, the hatred and bigotry, are right out of Mr. Trump’s playbook.”
“I think Virginia is going to speak today and we’re going to see that that’s not the direction people want to go in,” he added.