07:44 GMT13 May 2021
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    US President Donald Trump has claimed that, were he present at the scene of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that claimed 17 lives, he “really believe[d]” he’d run into the school and confront the shooter- even unarmed. No prizes for guessing how Twitter reacted.

    During a speech before 39 state governors on Monday, Trump chastised Broward County Police Officer Scot Peterson, who heard gunshots coming from the school where Nicolas Cruz had opened fire on his former classmates with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle on February 14, but failed to enter school premises and confront Cruz.

    CNN reported on Saturday that three other deputies remained outside the school at the time of the shooting. The officers "weren't exactly Medal of Honor winners," Trump said. "…The way they performed was really a disgrace."

    That's fine. But the question on everyone's mind is, what would you have done in that position, Don? "You know, I really believe… you don't know until you test it, but I really believe I'd run in there even if I didn't have a weapon," Trump said. "I think most of the people in this room would have done that too, because I know most of you."

    Big, if true. Trump is correct insofar as we can never know for sure what he would have done in the shoes of one of those Broward County deputies, but we can speculate.

    To do so, we must go back to 1964, when Trump was just an 18-year-old with too many teeth. When he became eligible for the draft to go fight in Vietnam, he received a student deferment so he could study business, first at Fordham University and later at the University of Pennsylvania.

    The 6'2" Trump, a lifelong athlete with a background in football, tennis and squash, was deemed physically fit to serve in 1966 and classified as fit by his local draft board in 1968. But soon, a note surfaced claiming that Young Master Donald had bone spurs in his heels that would prevent him from serving. He received a medical deferment.

    "I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels," said Trump to the New York Times in 2015, adding that the bone spurs were a "temporary" malady. He could not recall the name of the doctor.

    In 1969, Trump was eligible for the draft, but received one of the highest possible number, all but exempting him from service. "If I would have gotten a low number, I would have been drafted. I would have proudly served," he told ABC News in 2015. "But I got a number, I think it was 356 [out of 365]. That's right at the very end… I was not chosen because of the fact that I had a very high lottery number."

    "I didn't serve, I haven't served," said Trump at a campaign rally the same year. "I always felt a little guilty."

    Of course, Trump is far from the only politician of his era to have avoided serving in Vietnam in one way or another. Former US Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton both served stateside during the war in the Air National Guard and Army ROTC, respectively. Former Vice President Dick Cheney received six deferments for education and then to care of his pregnant wife, while former Vice President Joe Biden also received a medical deferment for the asthma he suffered from as a teenager.

    But none of them ever said that they'd run unarmed at a deranged gunman with an AR-15, either.


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