- Views & Opinions
Donald Trump has soared to the top of Republican presidential polls for his brash rhetoric, particularly his assertion that Mexican immigrants are drug dealers and rapists.
But today he might have gone too far for his right-wing supporters by shooting down Arizona Sen. John McCain over his military service.
Trump has an ongoing feud with McCain, who won the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, over their differences on immigration. Today, during a question-and-answer session at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Trump questioned McCain’s iconic reputation as a war hero.
“He is a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He is a war hero because he was captured.”
CNN reported that “the comments met with a mix of gasps, boos, laughter and some applause from an audience.”
But many of Trump’s GOP competitors condemned the remark, with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry calling on the temperamental real estate mogul to drop out of the race.
While serving as a Naval pilot in 1967, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam. He fractured both arms and legs, permanently losing some mobility.
McCain was imprisoned in the notoriously brutal “Hanoi Hilton” detention camp for more than five years, where he was repeatedly tortured and spent two years in solitary confinement. McCain was offered — but refused — early release after his captors found out that McCain’s father was a Navy admiral.
Meanwhile, Trump received four student deferments to avoid going to Vietnam before he finally obtained a medical deferment in 1968 that kept him out of the service for the rest of the war. The deferment was for a spur in Trump’s foot.
Perry issued a statement after the conservative Christian summit saying, “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.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Trump’s comments were “disqualifying.”
Other GOP hopefuls also condemned the remark, which Trump quickly tried to walk back. But he did not apologize.
In fact, the Trump campaign issued a statement that read: “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.”
Pundits will be watching closely the effect of Trump’s remarks on his polling numbers in coming days. So will Republican leaders who are terrified that Trump’s outlandish behavior will tarnish their brand in next year’s presidential election.