Republican strategist Rick Tyler believes President Donald Trump's reported slurring of slain U.S. service members as "suckers" and "losers" will hurt him much more than his previous insults against individual combat veterans.
The president opened his GOP presidential campaign by mocking Sen. John McCain's status as a prisoner of war and then attacked a Gold Star family who spoke out against him, although his most loyal followers no longer believe he made those public comments.
"I think it will be different in the sense that the followers of Donald Trump -- I've been arguing with them on twitter this morning, shown them videos, done the quote, shown the audio, on and on and on and they still denied it happened," Tyler told MSNBC. "Those people will never move away from Donald Trump."
But Tyler thinks the president's broad denigration will cut into his already waning support among service members.
"Rank-and-file military normally support Republican candidates for president very strongly, [and they] are really going to have to reconcile what Trump has said here," Tyler said. "The sad fact is, for debating whether this is all believable, [Atlantic editor-in-chief] Jeffrey Goldberg would not have gotten as far as he has gotten in the journalistic world if he made things up. I also know him personally, [and]] I don't believe he made it up."
"Second, it comports with who Donald Trump is and everything he's actually said out loud, arguing with Gold Star families, saying in front of Gen. [John] Kelly, his chief of staff, whose son was killed in Iraq, in front of his grave saying, 'I don't know what's in it for them,'" Tyler added. "He doesn't understand the idea of honor, so I think when you start to look at the military and start to look at Donald Trump and how he feels about them, and the fact he would want to engage the military against its own civilians, his own citizens in the United States in these protests which he classifies as riots, the military is going to have a second look."