Trump won’t apologize for McCain ‘war hero’ comments

Dylan Stableford
·Senior Writer
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Trump says he won’t apologize to McCain. (ABC News/File)

Republicans and Democrats alike are lining up in droves to condemn Donald Trump over comments in which he questioned whether Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former Navy pilot who survived capture during Vietnam, should be considered a “war hero.”

But the real estate mogul turned GOP presidential candidate remains unapologetic.

In a telephone interview on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Trump was asked if he thought he should apologize to McCain.

“No, not at all,” Trump replied.

During a campaign appearance Saturday in Ames, Iowa, Trump suggested McCain, who spent five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison, is only considered a war hero because he was caught.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Trump’s remarks about McCain make him “unfit” to be president.

“Donald Trump should apologize immediately for attacking Senator McCain and all veterans who have protected and served our country,” Perry said in statement. “As a veteran and an American, I respect Sen. McCain because he volunteered to serve his country. I cannot say the same of Mr. Trump. His comments have reached a new low in American politics. His attack on veterans makes him unfit to be commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, and he should immediately withdraw from the race for president.”

“It matters that we have a commander in chief that respects what those individuals have done,” Perry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “Until Mr. Trump apologizes directly to John McCain, and also to the veterans of this country, I don’t think he has the character or the temperament to hold the highest position in this country.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow GOP hopeful, agreed.

“It’s not just absurd,” Rubio said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.“It’s offensive. It’s ridiculous. And I do think it is a disqualifier to serve as commander in chief.”

“If there was ever any doubt that @RealDonaldTrump should not be our commander in chief,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a longtime friend of McCain’s, wrote on Twitter, “this stupid statement should end all doubt.”

“Enough with the slanderous attacks,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted. “@SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans - particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.”

“@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero, period,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wrote on Twitter. “I’ll denounce any attack against his service and anyone else who wears this uniform.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were among many GOP hopefuls to join them in blasting Trump.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, ripped Trump, too.

Meghan McCain, the Arizona senator’s daughter, tweeted her disgust.

On Twitter, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called McCain an “American hero.”

But Cruz refused to condemn Trump, calling him a “friend.”

“I recognize that folks in the press love to see Republican-on-Republican violence, so you want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else,” Cruz told reporters Saturday. “I’m not going to do it. John McCain is a friend of mine. I respect and admire him, and he’s an American hero. And Donald Trump is a friend of mine.”

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Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday. (Photo: Nati Harnik/AP)

The Republican National Committee released its own statement condemning Trump’s comments: "Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably."

It’s not just Republicans who are rebuking the “Celebrity Apprentice” host’s remarks.

Hillary Clinton called Trump’s attack on McCain “shameful.”

Secretary of State John Kerry strongly dismissed Trump’s comments.

“I have known John McCain for more than 30 years,” Kerry said in a statement. “We’ve had our share of disagreements and still do today. But one thing I know is beyond debate is that John McCain is a hero, a man of grit and guts and character personified. He served and bled and endured unspeakable acts of torture. His captors broke his bones, but they couldn’t break his spirit, which is why he refused early release when he had the chance. That’s heroism, pure and simple, and it is unimpeachable. If anyone doesn’t know that John McCain is a war hero.”

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. executive chairman, wishes Trump would just go away.

On “This Week,” a defiant Trump said he has no plans to leave the race.

“Of course they’d love to have me do that, because I’m leading the pack,” he said. “I’m certainly not pulling out.”