Earlier in the campaign, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was seen as a major break from the traditional candidates on military spending, a critic of overspending and impractical weapons projects backed by special interest groups.
He is now backing away from that, insisting that he will dramatically expand military spending in all areas if elected, insisting he believes that more military spending is vital in his plan of advancing “core national interests.” He also echoed long-standing US demands for all NATO members to spend 2% on their militaries.
This appears to be designed to make Trump a less controversial candidate among the existing Republican leadership, many of whom have bristled at his “isolationist” platform, which doubted the merits of some recent US wars, as well as acrimony toward Russia along the NATO frontier in Eastern Europe.
Several Congressional Republicans were quick to endorse Trump’s comments, suggesting that at least among them, transitioning his public statements to be more in line with the party leaders is working. Whether it is worth the damage it does to his support among less hawkish voters, however, remains to be seen.
That’s already becoming a concern, too, with a new Clinton ad titled “I Love War” making the rounds, and his campaign trying to back off some of the more bellicose rhetoric within, arguing that critics are “cherry-picking” quotes and putting them in the ad to make him look bad.
This included Trump’s quote on nuclear weapons, in which he declared “the power, the devastation is very important to me.” The comment was made during a Republican debate on modernizing the nuclear arsenal. This is particularly important now, as that budget-busting modernization scheme is starting to come under some scrutiny.