President Donald Trump on Wednesday greeted members of the military as he arrived in San Diego for a fundraiser and a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border.
In video shared by ABC 10, Trump can be seen departing Air Force One which landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar just after 11 a.m.
NBC 7 San Diego reports:
President Trump stepped off the plane at 11:32 a.m. and was greeted by a delegation of local officials. Among them were MCAS Miramar Commanding Officer COL Charles Dockery, Commanding Officer, SMMC Michael Walton, Poway Mayor Steven Vaus, 3rd MAW Assistant Wing Commander COL Simon Doran, 3rd MAW SMMC Peter Siaw, 3rd MAW CMDCM Donald Davis, Jr. and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway.
He then walked over to a crowd of people on the military tarmac where he signed hats and other items and posed for photos. Some supporters wore red hats with Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“You all look very tall,” Trump could be heard telling the group of Marines as he shook their hands.
As he made his way down the line, one Marine could be seen holding up his “Make America Great Again” hat in hopes that the president would sign it.
Trump pulled out his black Sharpie and signed his campaign’s signature red hat.
The president came under fire late last year when he was seen signing “Make America Great Again” hats and an embroidered patch that read “Trump 2020” during a December visit to military bases in Iraq and Germany.
CNN reports: “A US military official told CNN the MAGA hats that Trump signed at the Ramstein Air Base event in Germany were personal and brought there by military personnel in hopes of getting an autograph. The official contended that it was not a campaign event and that the hats were used as support for Trump, not as a statement of political support. Although the event was not an official Trump re-election campaign event, the President did declare his candidacy for re-election in 2020 soon after his inauguration.”
Trump signing MAGA hats for the troops in Iraq pic.twitter.com/bDUIk94jpR
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) December 26, 2018
Department of Defense guidelines say that “active duty personnel may not engage in partisan political activities and all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval, or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign, or cause.”
“It’s just not appropriate in front of a military audience,” said Ret. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. “Every time he’s around military audiences, he tends to politicize it, and he brings in complaints and grievances from outside the realm of military policy.”
“It is, in fact, a campaign slogan, that is a campaign item, and it is completely inappropriate for the troops to do this,” said CNN analyst and former member of the Obama administration John Kirby.
“This is very much against military policy and regulation,” CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said. “Troops are not supposed to be involved in political activities; the U.S. military is not a political force.”
“The sayings ‘Trump 2020’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ are political slogans of a Trump campaign. They are not governmental sayings, to say the least,” Starr said.