Presidential Hopeful Donald Trump Snubs John McCain's War Hero Image; Republicans Angry

By @diplomatist10 on
Former Florida Governor and probably 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush
Former Florida Governor and probably 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015 Reuters/Brian Snyder

The disparaging remark made by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump on fellow party man and veteran Senator John McCain casting aspersions on the latter’s war record has caused consternation among the GoP leaders. Trump chose to play down the hero image of McCain, at a function. McCain is a former prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

The real estate businessman has not been in the best of terms with the veteran Republican senator. He also criticised McCain's work in the Senate and called him "a loser" for his defeat in the 2008 White House race. Trump told a gathering of religious conservatives in Ames, Iowa, that "He's not a war hero," soon after the event's moderator Frank Luntz described McCain as a war hero. Trump then added McCain became hero becuase he was captured. “I like people who weren't captured,” he quipped.

Though later in a news conference Trump tempered his comments by saying, "If a person is captured, they are a hero as far as I'm concerned.” McCain was a fighter pilot in Navy and spent more than five years in Vietnam's Hanoi prison after he was shot down and tortured by his captors.

Comments Condemned

Trump’s comments drew condemnation from rival Republican presidential contenders and added to the latest of controversies to engulf the billionaire, who jumped into the race with harsh words on Mexican immigrants. The reactions were indicative that many Republicans have lost patience with Trump. “There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably," said Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the Republican National Committee. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said McCain was clearly a hero. "Enough with the slanderous attacks," former Florida Governor Jeb Bush tweeted.

"Donald Trump owes every American veteran, and in particular John McCain, an apology," said former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who said Trump's comments called into question his legitimacy as a potential president. Trump added more bitterness when he said at a news conference that he would not apologise to McCain.

Apologise to POWs

Later reacting to Trump’s remarks on him, Sen. McCain said the real estate mogul should not apologise to him, but rather he apologize to the veterans captured in war and their families. The Senator said, personally he will not seek an apology from Trump. “I don't think so, but I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country," McCain told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)