TN veterans ring in on Commander-in-Chief Forum - WSMV Channel 4

TN veterans ring in on Commander-in-Chief Forum

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off on the same stage Wednesday night on NBC, just not face to face.

Their mission was to tell the country -- and especially the veterans who protect it -- how they're prepared to lead the nation.

The backdrop for the Commander-in-Chief Forum was the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum.

The audience was comprised of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, some of whom also gathered for a watch party in the Whiskey River Bar and Grill in Wilson County.

Turnout was small.

Michael Blazer organized the watch party, which was sponsored by the local chapter of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

"If you want to be commander-in-chief, you really have to be sincere about it," said Blazer. "I feel a lot of veterans can really read between the lines. They can feel whether or not these veterans care."

The event comes on the heels of an NBC Survey Monkey poll, which shows the military community more widely supports Donald Trump.

Topics ranged from veterans affairs to foreign policy to national security.

"I believe they probably care, but it's probably a show," said Veterans Service Officer Bernie Ash, a Vietnam veteran and former Wilson County commissioner. "It's political, each trying to gain an edge with veterans before the election."

The Commander-in-Chief Forum, and watch parties like the one in Lebanon, mark the first time in the entire presidential campaign that both Clinton and Trump appeared at the same event.

But did it make an impact?

"Words really only go so far," added Blazer. "What we need is action, partnering with the community, helping to bridge that gap with employment, reaching out and making sure these veterans are OK."

"I think it's great we're starting the conversation," added Michael's wife, Lindsay. "And I hope it doesn't end tonight."

The first official presidential debate is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26. Early voting in Tennessee starts Oct. 19.

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  • Web Poll

  • After Wednesday night's forum, who do you think is better suited to become commander-in-chief?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Hillary Clinton
    31%
    431 votes
    Donald Trump
    54%
    775 votes
    Neither candidate
    15%
    220 votes
  • Click here to read more about local veterans' reactions to the forum
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