Mitt Romney left no stone unturned in his comprehensive takedown of the current Republican presidential front-runner on Thursday. He trashed Donald Trump's supposed business skills, ideas on foreign policy, and temperament in a big way. All of these critiques resonated with those of us who have watched Trump's election spectacle. However, there was one point in Romney's anti-Trump speech that left some people scratching their heads — namely, when he slammed Donald Trump over a Vietnam War sex boast.
Specifically, Romney called out Trump, saying, "There's a dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War, while at the same time, John McCain, who he has mocked, was in prison being tortured." Trump's penchant for hurling insults at McCain is well-known. In January, he said that the Arizona senator was "not a war hero." Referring to McCain's years as a prisoner of war, he added, "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” Trump also charmingly called McCain a "dummy" and a "loser" for various other reasons.
But, um, what exactly was Romney talking about with the sex part? Unfortunately, understanding it involves listening to Trump discuss his sex life in cringe-inducing detail — of course, any details of Trump's sex life are, by definition, cringe-inducing — with Howard Stern. Watch a video of the exchange at your own risk:
BuzzFeed located several uncomfortable clips of Trump speaking with Stern, including the one with the Vietnam War reference. While appearing on Stern's radio show in 1997, Trump happily boasted about his sexual escapades for all of America to hear (and subsequently be traumatized by). Speaking of how he avoided sexually transmitted infections during the decades, Trump said, "It is a dangerous world out there. It's scary, like Vietnam ... It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider." Stern said during the interview that both he and Trump have referred to the vagina as a "potential land mine."
In case you were wondering, Trump did not serve in Vietnam. He was medically disqualified in 1968 after receiving multiple deferments. However, questions were raised about Trump's medical status during the Vietnam War, especially after he said the reason for the excuse was that "he had a bone spur in his foot," but he "couldn’t recall which one," as the Washington Post reported last year.
Minutes after Romney's speech, McCain tweeted his praise and issued a statement raising concerns about "Mr. Trump’s uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues." McCain did not directly acknowledge the Vietnam War comments.
Trump's chat with Stern happened nearly two full decades before the United States would be grappling with the increasingly realistic prospect of a Trump presidency. One wonders if Trump would have compared his 1980s sexual adventures in the lap of luxury to the terrifying, traumatic experience of serving in Vietnam had he known then he would run for president. Then again, it was no less presidential than the remarks he has dished out regularly over his campaign.