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Joint Candidate Event to Highlight National Security, Military and Veterans Issues, Live in Primetime on NBC and MSNBC on Wednesday, September 7, 2016

AUGUST 18, 2016 – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will host both major party presidential nominees, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, for a live televised primetime forum to focus exclusively on issues the next president will have to confront as Commander-in-Chief.

The event will take place in New York City and will be simulcast on NBC and MSNBC in primetime on the evening of September 7, 2016.

The candidates will appear back to back during the one-hour event. They will take questions on national security, military affairs and veterans issues from NBC News and an audience comprised mainly of military veterans and active service members.

“IAVA is proud to lead this historic event for our veterans community and all Americans,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IAVA. “On the cusp of the 15th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, New York is a fitting stage to give voice to American veterans and service members that are all too often shut out of our political debate. IAVA members world-wide, 93% of whom say they’ll be voting in November, and many deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, are ready to hear from the candidates and hold them accountable. IAVA is honored to join with NBC on this significant event that will ensure that America’s next Commander-in-Chief, at least for one night, addresses our nation’s moral obligation to support and empower its 22 million veterans, our servicemembers and our military families.”

More information will be made available in the coming weeks about format, moderators, location and press credentialing.


Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading Post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-partisan, non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower Post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 5,000 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s-level social workers.


More Americans watch NBC News and MSNBC than any news organization in the world. NBC News is a global leader in news across all broadcast and digital platforms.  Its leading and award-winning television news broadcasts include NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, TODAY, Meet the Press, and Dateline, as well as primetime specials and breaking news reports.  MSNBC is the premier cable destination for breaking and live news coverage, in-depth analysis, and influential voices – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The rapidly-growing NBC News Digital Group, along with the SiriusXM TODAY Show and MSNBC radio channels and NBC News Radio on the iHeartMedia 24/7 News Network, provide continuous content to consumers wherever they are, whenever they want it.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 5,800 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.

August 31, 2016

Expanding the Commander-in-Chief Conversation

For over a decade and through multiple elections, IAVA has focused on finding every way possible to ensure veterans remain at the forefront of the American dialogue. As the 2016 election season continues to dominate headlines, IAVA will continue to be aggressive in advocating for our community to be a part of that dialogue.

As a non-partisan organization committed to advocating for the voices of all Post-9/11 veterans, IAVA applauds the efforts of Governor Gary Johnson’s and Dr. Jill Stein’s supporters to include their perspective in the conversation. We agree. The conversation focused on veterans should not end on September 7th and with the major party candidates. As a non-partisan organization – with an extremely politically diverse membership – we are committed to expanding the public conversation about the issues facing veterans with any viable candidate for President as often as possible.

As it stands today, Governor Johnson is qualified to appear on a ballot in all 50 states and exceeds 10% in a recent poll of active duty troops, Reservists and National Guard members conducted by the Military Times.  Though Mr. Johnson still does not meet the historical standard for general election meetings between candidates set by the Presidential Debate Commission, IAVA took the extra step to develop our own, more inclusive threshold for a series of ‘Commander-in-Chief Forums.’  We appreciate the patience of our members as we carefully underwent this important process. We have now reached out to Governor Johnson’s campaign to invite him to participate in a separate Commander-in-Chief Forum event.

We have also reached out to Dr. Stein to invite her to engage in a dialogue with IAVA Members.

IAVA also believes we have a responsibility to inform our members that, as of today, neither Gov. Johnson nor Dr. Stein has even posted a veterans policy section on their website.  For anyone vying to be Commander-in-Chief, that would be an important early step. IAVA’s comprehensive Policy Agenda, informed by our members nationwide, gives them an excellent place to go for guidance.

IAVA is always focused on empowering our generation of veterans and sharing our triumphs and challenges with all Americans. If national leaders want to talk seriously about veterans issues with our members, we’re excited to help make that happen. But as a non-profit organization, IAVA can not do this alone.  We need all the help we can get to ensure our voices are front and center for all Americans during this important election season. Even more so, we need everyone to help after the election is over. IAVA is in this for the long haul. Our vital programs change and save lives daily. And just as our members will lead America for decades to come, we’ll need support that continues long after the current media attention has faded.

We also look forward to uniting all Americans just days after Election Day for Veterans Day 2016. It will be the perfect time for people of all political backgrounds to come together around our veterans and chart a course ahead that benefits all of us for generations to come.

Click here to receive updates with the latest news and join our movement.


Hillary for America

HFA Response to Commander-in-Chief Forum

In response to tonight’s forum, Hillary for America Chair John Podesta released the following statement:

“The difference tonight could not have been more clear. Hillary Clinton showed a firm command of the issues and the qualifications, experience and judgment to be commander in chief. In contrast, the nominee of the party of Ronald Reagan just attacked America’s generals and showered praise on Russia’s president. Trump sputtered his way through the forum, making clear his secret ISIS plan is no plan at all, doubling down on the idea that the military should have known better than to have men and women serve together and lying yet again about his early support for the war in Iraq.”


Democratic National Committee

Even Grading on a Curve, Trump Failed tonight

Tonight Donald Trump made clear why he lacks the judgment and temperament to be Commander-in-Chief. Over the course of thirty minutes, he repeatedly praised Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. He called Putin a “leader” and pledged that if Putin “says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.” Trump also denigrated our military leadership by alleging that our generals “have been reduced to rubble.” And, he defended his 2013 tweet arguing that men and women serving together in the armed forces leads only leads to sexual assault.

See what others are saying about Trump’s unpresidential remarks and abysmal performance on foreign policy, the military, and our veterans and their families:  
Associated Press: Trump has been criticized in the past for seeming to heap praise on Putin and other strongmen. But Trump was unapologetic on Wednesday night, saying he was happy to take a compliment from Putin. He says if Putin “says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.” Trump added, however, that Putin’s compliments would not influence his decision making as president.
New York Times: Mr. Trump also reiterated his praise for Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, and argued that there was no evidence Russia had a hand in hacking the Democratic National Committee. “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, said of Mr. Putin. Mr. Trump also did not back away from his past suggestion that sexual assault in the military was inevitable after women joined the armed forces.
Politico: Trump, appearing after Clinton, insisted to Lauer that he had opposed the war — despite evidence to the contrary — quickly turning to criticize the current state of American foreign policy under President Barack Obama. Faced with his past statement that he knows more about ISIS than “the generals,” Trump responded that those same generals he would have to work with “have been reduced to rubble” under the leadership of Obama.
Associated Press: Trump remained persistently vague about his plans for defeating the Islamic State group, insisting that he privately has a blueprint for taking on the terror group but wanted to remain "unpredictable."
Washington Post: Donald Trump on Wednesday defended a tweet that he posted three years ago that stated the estimated number of unreported sexual assaults in the military and then mused: "What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?"
TIME: Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was “correct” in 2013 when he said having women in the military increased the likelihood of sexual assault… Trump began by saying that it’s a “massive problem” and that “we’re going to have to come down very, very hard on that.” “The best thing we can do is set up a court system within the military,” he said. “Right now the court system practically doesn’t exist.”
ABC News: Trump did very little to tamper controversial talk about how he has been friendly with Russia throughout his campaign. "I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. I think i would have a very, very good relationship with Russia," Trump said.
CNBC: Donald Trump brushed off his lack of a specific policy to defeat the Islamic State terror group on Wednesday night, claiming he had a plan but did not want to broadcast it to the United States' enemies.
Huffington Post: Asked Wednesday during NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York for his strategy to defeat ISIS, the real estate mogul doled out a heaping portion of word salad ― claiming he both did and did not have a plan, which could ultimately change once he speaks with the nation’s generals.
TPM:  Donald Trump lavished more praise on Vladimir Putin in Wednesday's NBC News' Commander-In-Chief forum, even after moderator Matt Lauer brought up the numerous ways Russia as sought to undermine U.S. interests. "Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters, who by the way, some of them are based here," Trump said. Trump went on to say he welcomed the compliments Putin has paid him.

Trump Failed The Commander-in-Chief Test Tonight

Tonight, Donald Trump confirmed what we have known since the moment he declared his candidacy: he is dangerously unstable, temperamentally unfit, and totally unqualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States. It was abundantly clear tonight that Trump is in over his head and unprepared to deal with the complex challenges facing our nation and the world.
See how reporters reacted to Trump’s disastrous performance:

@morningmoneyben: Trump is FAWNING over Putin. How can this be happening??#CommanderInChiefForum
@jmartNYT: Astonishing: GOP nominee says active-duty "generals have been reduced to rubble"
@mmurraypolitics: Trump repeats that he was against the Iraq war from the outset.
That is not true.
@ZekeJMiller: Trump: “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine in 04.” EXCEPT THE WAR STARTED IN 2003
@KilloughCNN: Trump says he has a plan to defeat ISIS. He also wants generals to come up with a plan. He may use his plan. He may use their plan. Or both.
@ABCPolitics: Trump defends 2013 tweet arguing men, women serving together contributes to sexual assaults: "Many people think that's absolutely correct."
@jbouie: Trump is completely empty of any knowledge. There is no way to make up for that in a few weeks. 
@StuPolitics: Trump didn't have a plan before he didn't have a plan but he may have a Secret plan if he like the generals' plan. Or not.

Correct The Record


Trump shows lack of respect for servicemembers and veterans

In a disastrous performance, Donald Trump just lied his way through the Commander in Chief test. He failed.

In a segment filled with lies and falsehoods, Trump showed just how unfit he is to be our next president. Surprising no one, Donald Trump lied about his support for the Iraq War, lied about the idea that if we just “[took] the oil” in the Middle East, there would be no ISIS and falsely claimed that our military is “depleted” and the our generals have been “reduced to rubble.”

Trump showed an incredible lack of respect for our women and men in uniform and our veterans. Trump said of his offensive tweet from 2013 about rape in the military (“26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”): “It’s a correct tweet.”  He went on to rudely try to correct (he failed—using the wrong statistic) a veteran when she asked about one of the biggest health issues facing our military and veterans: suicide.

So who does Donald Trump respect? Vladimir Putin, of course. Trump praised Putin, saying that “if he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him” and noted that Russian tyrant “does have very strong control over a country.”

We need a Commander in Chief who will respect—and protect—all of our men and women in uniform, not bow to the interests of the Kremlin.

Priorities USA Action
From: Justin Barasky
Subject: Let's Review

Hillary was tough, thoughtful, and resolute.
Trump trashed sitting generals of our armed forces, gave a passionate defense of Vladimir Putin, and defended a tweet of his that argued sexual assault is to be expected in the military when men and women serve together.
Got it.

Donald J. Trump for President


"Donald Trump understands when America is not prepared, that is when the danger is the greatest. Mr. Trump’s plans to rebuild our military will allow the United States to deter, avoid and prevent conflict through our unmatched military might. He has the vision and judgment to keep America safe from radical Islamic terrorists and take on the global challenges of the 21st century. Hillary Clinton through her actions has proven she cannot be trusted to serve as commander-in-chief. Her foreign policy record is a graveyard of diplomatic failures from the Middle East to Asia to Russia which have undermined America’s interests. And the fact she put national security at risk with a private email system designed to conceal Clinton Foundation corruption is disqualifying on its face. We cannot reward her bad judgment and reckless conduct with a promotion." – Rear Admiral Chuck Kubic, USN, Ret.


“Tonight the American people saw one candidate who was ready to assume the role of commander-in-chief and lead our troops to victory over radical Islamic terrorists, and they also saw Hillary Clinton. As a former Commander at SEAL Team Six and the Commander of Joint Special Forces in Iraq (2004), I've not only commanded the men who died in Benghazi under Clinton's watch, I've also trained hundreds more who are still serving. I think of them when I listen to our candidates for president and to me the choice is clear. Donald Trump is not afraid to say radical Islamic terrorism and he certainly isn't afraid to destroy it. Mr. Trump's commitment to military readiness and American leadership stands in stark Contrast to Clinton's third term of Obama.

“As a military dad, father of a Navy Diver and Navy SEAL, I shudder to think of how many times the flag will be flown at half staff over a weak Clinton White House. There's a reason veterans and military families are coalescing around Trump. Clinton has disqualified herself as commander-in-chief and Mr. Trump has proven himself.” – Rep. Ryan Zinke, Commander, USN, Ret.

Republican National Committee

RNC Statement On MSNBC Commander-in-Chief Forum

WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus released the following statement on the MSNBC Commander-in-Chief Forum:
“Hillary Clinton is the wrong choice to lead America as commander-in-chief, repeatedly showing poor judgment and failed leadership on critical issues like foreign affairs and the growth of radical Islamic terrorism, and an utter tone deafness on the catastrophe at the VA.  Americans need a strong leader who will keep our country safe and secure, not a politician who can’t even say she will make the country safer from terrorist threats. And her shocking claim that not a single American has died in Libya ignores the four brave Americans who fell victim to a terrorist attack on her watch.  
“Clinton-backed policies help fuel the growth of ISIS, allowed radical Islamic terrorists to gain a foothold in Africa, and emboldened Russia with a botched ‘reset,’ all of which have left America more vulnerable to growing threats around the world. Our nation cannot afford a third term of this disastrous Obama-Clinton agenda, nor can it trust a candidate who has continued to lie over and over about how she completely jeopardized national security with her reckless mishandling of classified information.
“Tonight Donald Trump promised peace through strength, and will make vigilance and toughness the cornerstone of his national security policy as president.”