Veterans took to social media in the wake of Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate to complain that the three-hour-plus event included no questions from CNN about their issues.
Veterans were mentioned by only two candidates during the broadcast, neither time in response to a direct question: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina several times mentioned health care delay problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and business mogul Donald Trump offered a broad promise to improve care for vets.
In the first Republican debate a month earlier, veterans were mentioned only once, in the waning minutes of the event. Many veterans saw that as a slight.
Before the event, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America offered a list of seven veterans-themed questions they hoped to hear at the debate, including “would you privatize the VA” and “how would you provide better care to women veterans.”
IAVA officials were dismayed by the silence on the issue in the debate.
“I asked (CNN) about that,” he told the crowd. “Not one question related to veterans health care. And not much related to the military. Believe me, those days are over.”
Debate moderator Jake Tapper acknowledged on Twitter on Thursday the lack of veterans discussion during the debate. After first stating that there weren’t enough policy differences on the issue among the candidates, Tapper backtracked and said the he did have at least one VA question planned “but sadly didn’t get to it.”
He also promised “more to come” on the issue.
CNN will host the first Democratic candidates debate in Nevada on Oct. 13. About 23 million people watched the network’s coverage of the second Republican debate this week.