Republican nominee Donald Trump was given a Purple Heart by a veteran on Tuesday, prompting the Republican nominee to declare that this was "much easier" than serving in combat.
Trump, who is embroiled in controversy over his criticism of the family of a slain soldier, said a man approached him before his event in Ashburn, Virginia, and handed him his medal, which is awarded to soldiers wounded in combat.
"I said to him, 'Is that, like, the real one or is that a copy?'" Trump recounted. "And he said, 'That's my real Purple Heart. I have such confidence in you.' And I said, 'Man! That's like, that's like big stuff.'"
"I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier," continued the celebrity businessman, who has never served in the armed forces. "But I tell you, it was such an honor."
The veteran, Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman, declined Trump's invitation to speak at Tuesday's town hall. He told NBC News before the rally it was actually a copy of his Purple Heart.
On Monday, The Veterans of Foreign Wars, a non-profit service organization with 1.7 million members, released a statement calling Trump out of bounds for tangling with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim family whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004. The fallen soldier was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
At last week's Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan criticized Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. and accused Trump of sacrificing "nothing and no one." In response, Trump said he was "viciously attacked" by Khizr Khan and implied that Ghazala Khan, the soldier's mother, stood silently alongside her husband during the speech because as a Muslim, she was restricted from speaking.
Trump, who has made helping veterans a centerpiece of his campaign, also drew criticism from some former servicemen when he was slow to produce millions of dollars he raised for veterans groups. The New York Times reported Monday that Trump received multiple student deferments and a medical deferment for a bone spur during the Vietnam War.
"Our veterans are being treated horribly," Trump said Tuesday. "We're going to turn that around so fast your head is going to spin."
Eric Trump defended his dad earlier Tuesday on "CBS This Morning" as "a great patriot" who "doesn't want to see more Americans dead." He said Donald Trump's comments were "honestly blown out of proportion."
Eric Trump added that Pat Smith, the mother of a Benghazi attack victim who is highly critical of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, has not received the same amount of airtime as the Khan family.
Clinton's policy, he said, "crippled Libya and Syria and Iraq."
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, said Trump's criticism of the Khan family was the latest evidence that Trump is unfit to lead America.
At a news conference Tuesday, Obama asked why Republicans in Congress are still endorsing Trump. Obama said there has to be a point when people break with the party's standard-bearer. Otherwise, he said, the denunciations are hollow.
Another of Trump's light-hearted remarks at the Virginia event also produced double-takes. He was interrupted Tuesday by the wails of a child — and Trump joked that he wanted the crying baby ejected from his rally.
"Don't worry about that baby, I love babies," Trump said. "I hear that baby crying, I like it. What a beautiful baby."
But when the baby continued to cry, Trump followed up by saying, "Actually, I was just kidding. You can get that baby out of here."
Trump still appeared to be joking. It was unclear if the child's mother left the room or if the child just fell silent.
Trump touched on other topics during Tuesday's event, telling supporters that without the U.S., "the Gulf states won't exist." If he is elected president, Trump said, he will require the Arab Gulf states to finance a safe zone in Syria.
"They are going to pay," Trump told the crowd.
The Arab gulf states, which make up a cooperative body called the Gulf Cooperation Council, are home to 20 percent of the world's oil supply.
On the top of Clinton's donors, Trump claimed that 20 people have given his opponent $60 million and he would like to know who they are. Trump did not specify a time frame in which Clinton allegedly raised that money.
Clinton's campaign said the Democratic nominee raised $63 million in July for her campaign.
Trump's reference to Clinton drew a strong reaction from the crowd, with one child reacting by screaming "take the b---- down."
The adults accompanying the child told NBC News after the rally they did not want to be interviewed but dismissed the behavior as "children being children."