Trump On John McCain: ‘I Like People Who Weren’t Captured’


trumpRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized Sen. John McCain’s military record at a conservative forum Saturday, saying the party’s 2008 nominee and former prisoner of war was a “war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

The comment drew some boos from some in the audience — and quick condemnation from rivals who have been waiting for such an opening to rein in the outspoken reality television personality. Trump has surged in polls recently, frustrating many in his party concerned that he has hijacked the 2016 Republican primary and damaged the GOP brand.

Trump and McCain traded barbs earlier this week. McCain said Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants and had “fired up the crazies” at a rally in Phoenix. Trump retorted that the Arizona Republican was “a dummy” who graduated at the bottom of his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

McCain’s war record was a cornerstone of his 2008 bid for president. A Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, he was captured after his plane was shot down. He was held for more than five years as a prisoner of war.

On Saturday, speaking at a conference of religious conservatives, Trump was pressed on his description of McCain as “a dummy.” The moderator, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, described McCain as “a war hero.”

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

During a news conference after his appearance at the Family Leader Summit, Trump did not apologize but sought to clarify his remarks.

“If a person is captured, they’re a hero as far as I’m concerned. … But you have to do other things also,” Trump said. “I don’t like the job John McCain is doing in the Senate because he is not taking care of our veterans.”

A spokesman for McCain, Brian Rogers, had no comment when asked about Trump’s remarks.

Trump said he avoided service in the Vietnam War through student and medical deferments. He said he got a medical deferment for a bone spur in a foot, but could not remember which foot. He added that he did not serve because he “was not a big fan of the Vietnam War. I wasn’t a protester, but the Vietnam War was a disaster for our country.”

The comments about McCain drew rapid criticism from other 2016 hopefuls. Some have been at the receiving end of Trump insults themselves.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who recently retired from the Air Force, said early state voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina would dispense with Trump soon enough.

“Here’s what I think they’re going to say: ‘Donald Trump, you’re fired,'” Graham said, borrowing a line from Trump’s reality television show.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another veteran, said he was “highly offended by what Donald Trump said about John McCain and his years of sacrifice in a dirty, dingy terrible prison in North Vietnam.” He added: “Donald Trump owes every American veteran, and in particular John McCain, an apology.”

On Thursday, Trump tweeted that Perry should be “forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.”

After Trump’s remarks, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tweeted: “Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans — particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.” In the past, Trump has criticized Bush on education and border issues and cracked that “this guy can’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also condemned the remarks. “You may agree or disagree with some of his politics,” Walker said, “but John McCain is an American hero, and I will defend him and any other veteran that’s been a prisoner of war.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called McCain an American war hero, but sidestepped when asked whether he would condemn the remarks.

“I recognize that folks in the press love to see Republican on Republican violence,” Cruz said. “You want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else and I’m not going to do it.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called McCain a “great American hero,” but he declined to weigh in on Trump’s comments, saying Trump would have to decide whether he wanted to “walk back” his statements.



  1. Excessively dumb comment by Trump.

    Note that Trump was born in 1946, meaning he was the right age to have been drafted, and he didn’t serve in the military.

    And Republicans, more so than Democrats, do value military service.

  2. Cruz said. “You want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else and I’m not going to do it.”

    I don’t believe that the Junior Senator from Texas actually said that.

    The quote must be from Penelope Cruz (from Spain) instead of Rafael Edward Cruz (born in Canada).

  3. John McCain is a total loser. If he is a hero because he was captured, that’s the end of it. He has consistently violated his Republican name and is a Liberal Democrat in actual practice.

    People are paying attention to Trump because he tells the truth about the horrible state that the country is in due to the disastrous bad leadership of the Leftist Democrats. America is being turned into a 3rd world country and criminals are freed and allowed to rampage freely throughout the country. Those silenced by the largesse they receive are going to be very unhappy when Yeshivas are forced to have mixed gender bathrooms and teach about Heather has 2 mommies to their classes or lose funding.

  4. Tzoobra, finally somebody in these comments with some common sense. Repubs are soo naive. Listen to what trump says that resonates with the public. 1 imigration laws, people want the mexican tide of illegals stopped. No we don’t care about votes. Both repubs and dems are vying for the illegals vote when legalized. Get it! We don’t need trump, we need common sense. This, none of the presidential contenders have. Veteran pow is not in any way a reason a person should get elected to potus.

    Oh, and hillary, she has enough of her own baggage.

    Not saying he didn’t speak like a trump (disgracefull) just listen to what policies the people want. Don’t rule out trump becoming prez for being the only one raising issues bothering people. You can however rule out trump himself. Then you’ll jave a chance at winning.

  5. Re comment no. 6: You and your “truth”-telling friend who is the subject of this article have overlooked, or (more likely, I guess) are ignorant of, the facts that make Mr. McCain’s role in the misguided Vietnam war heroic. Mr. McCain was a Navy pilot who was shot down by anti-aircraft guns or missiles while flying a mission over North Vietnam. Capture was a risk that most of the current presidential candidates did not have the courage to take. But what was extraordinarily heroic was Mr. McCain’s refusal to take advantage of the North Vietnamese scheme to curry favor with Mr. McCain’s father, who was a high-ranking Naval officer. Several times the North Vietnamese offered to release Mr. McCain from prison and torture, when other Americans, imprisoned for longer periods than Mr. McCain, were not offered similar relief. Mr. McCain refused all those offers. That is heroic by any measure.

    The Donald attended a military prep school but never served in a real military unit. I would guess he did not have the courage to go to an inspection with unshined shoes.

  6. nfgo3,

    You left out McCain’s guilty role in the Forrestal disaster that he was involved in. Mary Hershberger has reported on this and this indicates that his hero designation is inappropriate.

    Trump has flaws but none of them come near the failings of the Republican Rinos and certainly don’t approach the failings of Hillary and Sanders.

  7. Re comment no. 10: I did not leave out anything. I was trying to explain why Mr. McCain should be considered a hero, and I think I did. I am not familiar with “the Forrestal disaster.” I am familiar with Mr. McCain’s decidedly non-heroic roll in the Keating Five scandal. I am a Democrat, a liberal, and overall, I do not like Senator McCain’s political record. But his conduct as a prisoner of war was heroic, and no one, least of all a spoiled rich kid who attended a high-priced “military” prep school but never served in the military should tell us he is not heroic.