FACT CHECK: Is Ron DeSantis The Only Veteran Running For President?

July 25th, 2023
Florida Governor Ron Desantis speaks as he is interviewed by Former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson (not pictured) during the Family Leadership Summit at the Iowa Events Center, in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., July 14, 2023. REUTERS/Scott Morgan
Correction 7/27/2023: Two candidates who have declared for the Republican presidential nomination, E.W Jackson and Corey Stapleton, served in the military. This necessitates a change in the verdict from “True” to “False.” We regret this error.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed during a July 18 interview that he is the only veteran running for president.
Verdict: False

Corey Stapleton, who declared his candidacy for the presidency in November 2022, is a U.S. Navy veteran. E.W. Jackson is a Marine Corps veteran.

Fact Check:

DeSantis sat down with CNN host Jake Tapper, where he discussed various issues such as China, his campaign and electability, according to CNN. During the interview, he claimed he was the only veteran running.

“Yeah, we are. I think this is a great setup for me. I’m the only veteran running. I’ll be the first president-elected since 1988 that served in a war,” DeSantis said. (RELATED: Did More People Move Out Of Florida Than New York And California?)

This claim, however, is false, as two candidates who declared for the Republican Party candidacy are veterans. Two long-shot candidates, Corey Stapleton and E.W Jackson, are veterans. Stapleton was a U.S. naval officer, according to his campaign website. Jackson served in the Marines from 1970 to 1973, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported.

Check Your Fact also reviewed the biographies of other presidential candidates running for president in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

None of the three declared Democratic Party candidates are veterans. President Joe Biden received several draft deferments through the Vietnam War and served as a Senator for 36 years before becoming vice president and president. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spent his career as an environmental lawyer, activist and vaccine skeptic. Marianne Williamson, an author and activist, did not serve in the military.

None of the other candidates for the Republican party are veterans. (RELATED: Did Donald Trump Win Nevada Twice?)

Hurd, a former congressman who declared in June, served as an undercover CIA officer for years, including stints in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2009, according to The New York Times. The CIA is a civilian agency, and Check Your Fact reached out to the Hurd campaign and the CIA to see if Hurd would be considered a veteran by either of them.

Check Your Fact also reviewed the declared presidential candidates for the Libertarian and Green Party nominations. None of them are veterans.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Mike Ter Maat worked in finance, economics and as a police officer, according to his campaign website. Chase Oliver describes himself as an activist, does not mention any military service on his campaign website and worked in the import shipping business. Lars Mapstead’s campaign website describes him as “a tech entrepreneur, road racing enthusiast…” His LinkedIn page makes no mention of military service.

Philosopher and academic Cornel West, who declared his candidacy for the Green Party presidential nomination, did not serve in the military. Check Your Fact could not find any evidence that Randy Toler, who declared for the Green Party presidential nomination as well, served in the military. He has worked for IBM and in pizza delivery.

The last president to serve in a war was George H.W. Bush, who served in World War II as a pilot on the Pacific Front, according to his White House biography. Neither Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama nor Donald Trump served in a war. DeSantis served in the U.S. Navy and was deployed to Iraq, according to his biography on the Florida Department of State website.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter