John McCain fires back at Donald Trump over "war hero" remarks: He doesn't owe me an apology -- he owes one to all POWs

The Arizona senator did, however, refuse to knock Trump for acquiring multiple medical deferments to avoid service


Scott Eric Kaufman
July 20, 2015 5:08PM (UTC)

On "Morning Joe" Monday, Arizona Senator John McCain fired back at Donald Trump for his remarks on Saturday that prisoners of war aren't really "war heroes" and that he preferred to lionize "people that weren't captured."

"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski began by asking the senator whether he was owed an apology by Trump. "No," McCain said. "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 their country."

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Host Joe Scarborough noted that many of the same Republicans who were outraged by Trump's comments were complicit in the swift-boating of John Kerry in 2004, and asked whether the military service of all veterans should be "off the political tables one and for all."

McCain replied that they should, and added that he "strongly condemned" those who questioned Kerry's military service.

Scarborough asked him to "talk about how you personally feel when you have someone [like Trump] who avoided the military draft to go fight Vietnam criticizing you for making the decision to go, and then when your connections could have got you out of active torture, you chose not to take that route but to stay with your buddies until they all got out."

"I think you are old enough to remember the controversies and the wounds of the Vietnam War," McCain said. "Might have been the only war that you and I ever knew much about where the veterans were not welcomed home."

"But what about Donald Trump, though?" Scarborough asked. "Are you not resentful that a guy that didn't serve in Vietnam is criticizing someone like yourself who still is paying the price day in and day out for what you did and what you endured while in prison camp?"

McCain continued to take the moral high ground, saying "I put all that behind me. The best thing to do is put it behind us and move forward and just express our gratitude to those who have served and sacrificed. Who are the real heroes? They're the 55,000 names that are down on the wall engraved in black granite that I stop by sometimes early in the morning and when the sun is going down."

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The senator added that he didn't believe Trump should be required to bow out of the race on account of his statement. "What I think he should do is apologize to the families and those who have served the people like John Petavalino, who served and they were -- the proudest moments of their lives was serving in the company of heroes and those are the people he should apologize to."

Watch the entire interview below via MSNBC.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Donald Trump Elections 2016 Joe Scarborough John Mccain Mika Brzezinski Morning Joe Video Vietnam War

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