Democrats are flocking to Sen. John McCain's defense after President Trump questioned his military prowess for at least the second time. In July 2015, shortly after Trump announced his presidential run, he suggested McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured as a POW. At the time, shocked pundits predicted that Trump's remarks would ruin his White House chances.
Now that Trump has been sworn in as president, he has not dialed back his criticism of the Arizona senator - especially when the senator strikes first. This week, McCain criticized the first military raid conducted under the Trump administration. The raid, which took place in Yemen, targeted an Al Qaeda camp and resulted in the deaths of 14 terrorist fighters. Unfortunately, we also lost Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens. The president mourned Owens' death, while also labeling the raid a success. In a statement on Wednesday, McCain said he “would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.”
Trump did not appreciate McCain's response.
Sen. McCain should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media. Only emboldens the enemy! He's been losing so....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
...long he doesn't know how to win anymore, just look at the mess our country is in - bogged down in conflict all over the place. Our hero..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
..Ryan died on a winning mission ( according to General Mattis), not a "failure." Time for the U.S. to get smart and start winning again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
After Trump's Twitter tirade, Democrats started defending McCain's integrity. Speaking with reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said Trump better "watch out" if he's going to attack a colleague of his who's served the nation on the battlefield. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also defended McCain on the Senate floor.
Trump was not without his defenders, however. In a Fox News interview, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) regretted McCain's assessment about the military mission in Yemen.
"When you say this was not a success, you are hurting the morale of the United States military."