The Daily Donald: Trump still on the warpath against John McCain, declares he won't be "lectured"

The Donald delivers a potentially fatal blow to his campaign -- but he won't back down in face of GOP criticism

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published July 20, 2015 1:55PM (EDT)

Donald Trump                      (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
Donald Trump (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

August 4 is the cutoff date for invitations to the first Republican debate, which will be August 6 and will feature the top 10 GOP candidates according to an average of the five national polls conducted closest to the cutoff date. Donald Trump is number one in the last two national polls, all but guaranteeing that the inflammatory showman will be on stage, even after a rough weekend.

Here are the latest developments in The Trump Show:

Trump won't back down on McCain attack 

A "dummy" who is only "a war hero because he was captured." That is how Trump described Senator John McCain after he blasted Trump supporters as "crazies." Now that Trump may have finally crossed the GOP line of proper decorum, insulting a former POW, the real-estate mogul still refuses to apologize, holding steady to his persona as a brash straight shooter.

Trump's fellow Republican primary opponents came out swiftly to condemned his remarks. Rick Perry, Trump's most vocal GOP rival, called him "unfit" to be Commander-in-Chief, saying he "should immediately withdraw from the race for President," while Gov. Scott Walker said that "at a minimum, he needs to apologize." The Republican National Committee, whose head Reince Priebus was reportedly too polite to reprimand Trump's comments classifying Mexican immigrants as criminal and rapists last week, said of Trump's insult of McCain, "there is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably."

But at a testy press conference after his comments to the Iowa Family Leadership Summit on Saturday, Trump began a most unconvincing walk back before settling back on his original assessment of McCain's war record: "I am not blaming John McCain for his capture. If he gets captured, he gets captured ... I like the people who don’t get captured and I respect the people who do get captured.” And Trump told ABC's This Week, that he had absolutely no plans to apologize to McCain, claiming the controversy surrounding his comments were ginned up by his GOP rivals:

No, not at all. Actually, if you look at Sharyl Attkisson’s report last night, four times she said I said perfectly, I said whatever it was, and it was absolutely fine. And she thought the press was covering me very -- very, very unfairly. And she stated that strongly. And I respect her as a reporter. And somebody that a lot of other people respect.

Also and very importantly I got a standing ovation, the biggest ovation they had all weekend, by far. When I left the room, it was a total standing ovation. It was wonderful to see. Nobody was insulted.

What happened is, later on, the Republican candidates, some of whom are registering 1 percent and zero, and they’re very upset that I’m leading the polls by actually a nice margin, they’re extremely upset and they were extremely when the Nevada numbers just came out and they’re through the roof too. They started attacking me.

Trump targets Bernie Sanders

In a USA Today op-ed published Sunday evening titled "I don't need to be lectured," Trump attempted to set the record straight on his back-and-forth with McCain but just ensnarled Sen. Sanders in the mess while doubling down on his original attack on McCain. Trump attempted to contrast his record of support for veterans with McCain's and Sanders', whom he claimed had attempted to "cover up the VA scandal": (emphasis added)

Thanks to McCain and his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, their legislation to cover up the VA scandal, in which 1,000+ veterans died waiting for medical care, made sure no one has been punished, charged, jailed, fined or held responsible. McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them.

The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obama with the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty. He would rather protect the Iraqi border than Arizona’s.


My record of veteran support is well-documented. I served as co-chairman of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission and was responsible, with a small group, for getting it built. Toward this end, I contributed over $1 million so our warriors can be honored in New York City with a proper memorial. I also helped finance and served as the grand marshal of the 1995 Nation’s Day Parade, which honored over 25,000 veterans.  It was one of the biggest parades in the history of New York City, and I was very proud to have made it possible.

Trump's own military service 

The Washington Post took a look at "what Donald Trump was up to while John McCain was a prisoner of war":

It was the spring of 1968 and Donald Trump had it good.

He was 21 years old and handsome with a full head of hair. He avoided the Vietnam War draft on his way to earning an Ivy League degree. He was fond of fancy dinners, beautiful women and outrageous clubs. Most important, he had a job in his father’s real estate company and a brain bursting with money-making ideas that would make him a billionaire.

“When I graduated from college, I had a net worth of perhaps $200,000,” he said in his 1987 autobiography “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” written with Tony Schwartz. (That’s about $1.4 million in 2015 dollars.) “I had my eye on Manhattan.”

More than 8,000 miles away, John McCain sat in a tiny, squalid North Vietnamese prison cell. The Navy pilot’s body was broken from a plane crash, starvation, botched operations and months of torture.

As Trump was preparing to take Manhattan, McCain was trying to relearn how to walk.

Trump calls for a boycott of Mexico 

Trump called for a boycott of Mexico because “It’s a corrupt place," citing the second prison escape of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán. “It’s unbelievable that he got out and it sort of just goes to what I’m saying, about the whole thing on the border, and the whole thing about crime, and all of the things I’ve said,” Trump said during an interview over the weekend.

“I think we should boycott Mexico frankly. Mexico is treating us very, very badly,” the billionaire declared.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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2016 Elections Donald Trump Gop John Mccain R-ariz.