In case you missed it, Donald Trump implied over the weekend that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wasn’t an actual war hero. Why? Because, it seems, he was captured during the Vietnam War, and therefore didn’t serve his country in uniform for the duration of the conflict. And yet, given the chance on Sunday to express remorse on ABC’s This Week for that particular comment, or perhaps even issue an apology, he refused.
Trump spoke for some ten minutes defending himself, reiterating the fact that he called Sen. McCain a war hero “four times” during that same event. Nevertheless, his GOP opponents aren't letting him off the hook so easily. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who shares a frosty relationship with the business mogul to begin with — and a warm friendship with the Arizona senator, I might add — said the following yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union:
"This is not just an insult to John McCain, who clearly is a war hero and a great man, but it's an insult to all POWs."
Gov. Rick Perry has expressed similar sentiments. To his credit, though, as CNN notes, Trump believes “all our soldiers are heroes!” — whether they were POWs or not. But the fallout from what he said is catching up with him. As Martha Raddatz pointed out, some veterans groups are absolutely fuming, which suggests that this controversy might not necessarily be dying down anytime soon (via NRO):
A conservative veterans’ group has slammed Donald Trump for his controversial remarks about Arizona senator John McCain’s capture during the Vietnam War, and for his effort to clarify those remarks in a follow-up statement.
“A man who received four student deferments to avoid service in the Vietnam War has absolutely no credibility to attack someone like John McCain who volunteered to serve his country and suffered five-and-a-half years of torture as a result,” Concerned Veterans for America CEO Pete Hegseth said in a statement on Saturday.
Ouch. Apparently, however, other veterans groups do have Trump’s back.
UPDATE: Trump recently defended himself in the pages of USA Today.
John McCain has called his own constituents who want a secure border “crazies.” No one in the news media or the establishment, including the Republican National Committee, criticized the senator for those comments.
Now, as respected reporter Sharyl Attkisson has proved point by point, the news media are also distorting my words. But that is not my point. McCain the politician has failed the state of Arizona and the country.
Read the rest here.
UPDATE: McCain finally responds.
Sen. John McCain on Monday played down his personal spat with Donald Trump, but said that Trump should apologize to prisoners of war after the GOP presidential candidate’s controversial comments mocking McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War.
"He might owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country," McCain (R-Ariz.) said on NBC's "Morning Joe," adding that Trump didn't owe him a personal apology.
UPDATE: Video added.