In a Twitter spat between spokespeople for the top two candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, the military service of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg appeared to be used as a cudgel against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington tweeted on Saturday: “Ron ‘Dee-Santis’ has run for 4 different offices in the past 7 years. That’s not someone who’s in it for the country, it’s someone who’s in it for himself.”
The “DeSantis War Room” Twitter account then responded, saying that “the Trump campaign said @RonDeSantis is ‘not someone who’s in it for the country.’”
“Here’s our response,” they added, sharing images of Mr DeSantis in his Navy uniform and from his time serving in Iraq, a clear dig at former President Donald Trump, who avoided joining the military by claiming that he had medical issues that prevented him from serving.
Ms Harrington then replied by only posting an image of the transportation secretary in his military gear, seemingly in an attempt to denigrate the service of both Mr Buttigieg and Mr DeSantis.
Mr Buttigieg served as an intelligence officer with the US Naval Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months.
The response prompted criticism from Twitter users, who slammed the spokeswoman for appearing to use the Democrat’s military service to criticise Mr Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination over Memorial Day weekend.
“Great way to dump on veterans and people in uniform… You nailed this one Liz,” one Twitter user said.
“Let’s mock vets over Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure that is a great strategy,” another added, to which a third referenced Mr Trump’s criticism of late Arizona Senator John McCain, who spent five years in captivity in Vietnam. Mr Trump once said he only liked soldiers who “weren’t captured”.
“The official Trump campaign chooses Memorial Day weekend to tweet that men and women who served in uniform should be viewed with suspicion,” Donny Ferguson added.
“‘Serving your country is dishonorable because libs do it’ is an interesting campaign message,” one Twitter user said.
“Why would the spokeswoman for Cadet Bone Spurs think she’s in any position to talk?” another account holder added, referencing Mr Trump’s draft dodging excuse.