Republicans looking for a way to go after the celebrity presidential candidacy of Donald Trump got their chance Saturday when Trump, who never served in the military, belittled the service of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was held prisoner for six years and tortured during the Vietnam War.
"He's a war hero because he was captured," Trump said at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. "I like people that weren't captured."
Here is the clip of Trump's pathetic comment on John McCain. pic.twitter.com/nGwxriq390— Austin Barbour (@Austin_Barbour) July 18, 2015
McCain criticized Trump earlier this week in an interview with the New Yorker in which McCain lamented that Trump. who had drawn thousands to a rally in Phoenix, hurt the GOP with his comments against Mexican immigrants that "fired up the crazies."
Trump called McCain a "dummy" on Twitter after the interview was published. But the real-estate magnate took it a step further -- and perhaps a step too far -- in Saturday's speech, which drew immediate backlash from his rivals and the party. Instead of backing down, Trump's campaign followed up with a statement continuing to bash McCain.
"I am not a fan [sic] John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA," the statement began (read it in full below). "He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping the Vets."
"I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren't captured and are also heroes," Trump adds in the statement, which ends with a note about how his speech received "a long lasting standing ovation, which will be by far the biggest ovation of the weekend, and much congratulatory praise."
That certainly wasn't true elsewhere.
Sean Spicer, communications director and chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, issued a statement defending McCain.
Then came the other presidential candidates.
Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans - particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) July 18, 2015
If there was ever any doubt that @realDonaldTrump should not be our commander in chief, this stupid statement should end all doubt.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) July 18, 2015
.@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero, period. I’ll denounce any attack against his service and anyone else who wears the uniform. -SW— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) July 18, 2015
.@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero, period.— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) July 18, 2015
After Donald Trump spends six years in a POW camp, he can weigh in on John McCain's service— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) July 18, 2015
America’s POWs deserve much better than to have their service questioned by the offensive rantings of Donald Trump— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 18, 2015
I know @SenJohnMcCain. Senator John McCain is an American hero. Period. Stop.— Chris Christie (@ChrisChristie) July 18, 2015
.@SenJohnMcCain served w honor&courage-proud to call him a friend. GOP voters deserve better than outrageous statements & personal attacks.— Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina) July 18, 2015
.@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero. Every breath I breathe and every step I take is free because of brave Americans like John McCain.— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 18, 2015
I don't always see eye to eye with @SenJohnMcCain. But I honor his service and the sacrifices he made for our country.— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 18, 2015
John McCain is an American hero. Although we have some policy disagreements, I'm proud to serve alongside him.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 18, 2015
.@SenJohnMcCain refused special treatment as POW because of his patriotism. He became and is an American hero for his selflessness, bravery— Dr. Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson) July 19, 2015
Trump's full statement:
I am not a fan John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what the Veterans need, especially in regards to the VA. He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping the Vets. He is also allowing our military to decrease substantially in size and strength, something which should never be allowed to happen.
Furthermore, he was extremely disrespectful to the thousands upon thousands of people, many of whom happen to be his constituents, that came to listen to me speak about illegal immigration in Phoenix last week by calling them "crazies".
These were not "crazies"---these were great American citizens.
I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren't captured and are also heroes.
I want to strengthen our military and take care of our Veterans. I want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN especially for those that serve to protect our freedom. I am fighting for our Veterans!
Note, Mr. Trump left to a long lasting standing ovation, which will be by far the biggest ovation of the weekend, and much congratulatory praise.