MERRIMACK, N.H. — Democrat Pete Buttigieg, riding the boost of an approximate victory in the Iowa caucuses Monday, addressed a crowd of New Hampshire veterans at an American Legion post here Thursday to not-so-subtly contrast his military service with President Trump’s Vietnam-era deferrals.

Without ever using Trump’s name, Buttigieg noted that his service taught him that leadership requires “a certain amount of humility… officers eat last when you are at chow.”

He said he would overturn Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, a ban he noted “was imposed by someone who avoided service.”

And he said his service taught him that “being in charge is not about being exalted. And the more humility you take with you in any position of authority, the better.”

Buttigieg served as a military intelligence officer for the U.S. Navy Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in 2014. He said that in the military, the people he served with “could not care less if I was a Democrat or a Republican” — what mattered was doing the job.

He added that experience showed him how common service can create common ground among people of diverse beliefs and backgrounds.

Trump has said the was exempted from the draft in the 1970s because of bone spurs in his heels.

Buttigieg came out of Iowa more or less tied for first place with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, even as National Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez called for a recount of the caucus votes Thursday.

The disputed result clearly boosted interest in the campaign of the former South Bend, Ind., mayor.

“We are just a little more crowded than we anticipated,” Buttigieg said from the stage as staff picked their way through the crowd to get a microphone to audience members wanting to pose questions.

The event drew such a large crowd that even a large scrum of reporters could not make it inside.

But not everybody in the room was yet sold on the former South Bend mayor.

Alicia Hennessey, 73, from Pelham, said she is all in on Buttigieg, who’s “new, exciting, and smart, obviously.” Her husband Dave said he is still trying to decide between Buttigieg and former vice president Joe Biden.

Standing beside them, Chris Mauser, 72, of Merrimack, said she likes Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who she calls a “forceful woman.” Chris’ husband Bill is still making up his mind, even though he acknowledges that time is running short. He said he was impressed with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Buttegieg told the crowd he understands the ambivalence. “New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anyone else tell you what to do.”

Merrimack went for Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary, but Trump got 7,400 votes here to Clinton’s 6,400 in the general election.

Singer reported from Boston.