By NICHOLAS RICCARDI
Published: September 6, 2016
Iraq war veteran and Nevada Republican party staffer Jon Staab talks with Vicky Maltman, a Reno veterans rights activist, before going out to canvass veterans, in Reno, Nev. on Aug. 19, 2016. Nicholas Riccardi/Associated PressRENO, Nevada — It was more than a routine get-out-the-vote knock on the door when Iraq War veteran and Nevada Republican Party staffer Jon Staab asked Kenneth Olofson, a Vietnam veteran, if he'll be voting for Donald Trump. An instant bond was formed as the two swapped stories of service and those of relatives who fought in World War II.
"I don't miss an election," Olofson, 74 and a lifelong Republican, said. "Whenever I vote, I think of Normandy."
A few blocks away, Daniel Mendoza, also an Iraq war veteran canvassing for the GOP, was promptly kicked off another elderly veteran's property at the mere mention of Trump's name.
Two years ago, the Republican National Committee hatched a plan to bolster turnout for veterans, who traditionally lean Republican. The party calculated that 6.5 million veterans either didn't register to vote or didn't cast a ballot in the 2012 presidential election. In the shadow of the Obama administration's controversial management of the Veteran's Administration, the RNC compiled lists of veteran voters and hired veterans for an unprecedented get-out-the-vote effort.
Then Trump won the party's presidential nomination, and his controversial rhetoric has rubbed some veterans the wrong way. The billionaire businessman has mocked Sen. John McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War, threatened to withdraw from NATO and feuded with a slain soldier's family that criticized him during the Democratic National Convention.
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