Donald Trump On John McCain: I Like People Who Weren’t Captured
Donald Trump stuck his foot in his mouth again.
Speaking today at a gathering in Iowa, Donald Trump dismissed the idea that John McCain is a war hero and manged to set off a firestorm:
Donald Trump might finally have crossed the line.
Appearing on Saturday at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, the real estate mogul took his running feud with Arizona Sen. John McCain to a new level.
“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
The remarks, which came after days of back-and-forth between McCain and Trump, were met with scattered boos.
McCain, a former Navy pilot, spent roughly five-and-half years in a notorious North Vietnamese prison known as the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was repeatedly tortured. He spent two of those years in solitary confinement.
Trump received four student deferments from military service between 1964 and 1968.
Republicans quickly distanced themselves from Trump’s remarks — though not all of them condemned them directly.
“Advice to @realDonaldTrump: Apologize for this pronto. Otherwise beginning of end,” Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who is close to McCain, tweeted.
Here’s the video:
There is a history between McCain and Trump that goes back to Trump’s appearance in Arizona last week and McCain’s criticism of his remarks about immigrants and immigration at that event. However, this comment strikes me as something that is just likely to get Trump in trouble. Especially since it’s likely to revive the stories from the 2012 cycle regarding Trump’s avoidance of the draft during the same Vietnam War that McCain served in. From my own perspective, I’m no fan of McCain for many reasons, but this strikes me as beyond the pale. It is true that Republicans have attacked Democrats who’ve served in the past, most notably John Kerry during the 2004 election and former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, but the fact that McCain isn’t even a candidate for President makes Trump’s attack seems gratuitous in addition to being disrespectful to McCain and every other American POW.
So far, the reaction that I’ve seen from conservatives online has been overwhelmingly negative, which is consistent because even though many on the right have been critical of McCain going all the way back to the 2008 Presidential campaign if not sooner, there has always been a reservoir of respect for him because of his military service and his time as a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War. Additionally, the American right takes its devotion to the military very seriously, often to an unfortunate level, and comments like this are unlikely to go over very well with most conservatives. Already, several of Trump’s opponents have denounced his statements — included Jeb Bush, Rick Perry (who also called on Trump to drop out of the race), Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and Scott Walker as well as the Republican National Committee. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from more candidates as the day goes on, but the most interesting comments will be the ones from Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Over the past two weeks or so, Cruz has taken on the role of Trump’s defender in the wake of all the criticism over Trump’s remarks about immigrants. Earlier this week, Trump and Cruz met privately at Trump’s office in New York for undisclosed reasons. Cruz has already been criticized for what many have characterized as his obsequious groveling before Trump, if he defends him this time it could end up harming him politically.
The question, of course, is whether this will hurt Trump in the polls. Chris Cillizza suggests that it may not hurt him much at all:
Given the increasing number of times Trump has made outlandish comments that have been disproven or rebuked — and that Trump has nonetheless steadily risen in the polls — it’s easy to envision Trump not paying much of a price this time, either.
Among the conservative voters that rallied to Trump’s side after his attacks on immigration, McCain is hardly a favorite. (Some laughter can be heard in the audience following Trump’s comment.) But for less fervent voters who liked the idea of straight-shooting Donald Trump who was the only guy talking about immigration, the comments will likely cause some reconsideration of support. Average Republican voters support deporting illegal immigrants. They are far more likely, however, to support military service.
As I’ve said, the main reason Trump has been gaining support over the past month is because he is saying things that resonate with much of the Republican base and doing so with a populist anti-establishment message that appeals to a certain segment of voters. How will those people react this? I honestly don’t know, but I have the suspicion that most of them are just going to cheering Donald Trump on and that’s kind of depressing.
This is every bit as entertaining as I’d hoped Candidate Trump would be.
This may kill Trump with all but his most rabid fans. I don’t know how many of those there are.
McCain did lose four planes, and he did do some rather stupid stunts in Spain, where he hit power lines (that plane was mostly fine, landed safely and was repaired).
To be entirely fair, one of the lost planes was the result of a friendly fire incident on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and he cannot be held even remotely responsible for it. But another was clearly identified as pilot error. (The remaining two are suspected engine failure, and getting shot down)
Someone who was not the son of an admiral might have had a very different career with that record.
Darn, sounds like Trump is flaming out a bit too early.
I suspect that Trump is close to going down in flames himself although what @Gustopher: says is true.
Also, does being treated brutally at the hands of our enemies make one a hero? If he were abducted and imprisoned in someone’s basement in Detroit and savagely beaten, we would just call him a victim. Or if he was shot by a guy named Muhammad in Chattanooga.
He did refuse an out-of-order release, but he also gave in to the torture and signed a anti-American “confession” (which I don’t blame him for, but which does make victim seem like a more appropriate word)
Is the sum total of his heroism refusing an early release?
I don’t want want to minimize his sacrifice, but I also don’t want to minimize the heroism of, say, firefighters.
No Republican has ever been held accountable for receiving deferments in order to avoid serving in Vietnam. This is going to put Trump over the moon with Republican voters–they hate McCain with a passion.
So I’m trying to figure out where this “Line” is, that all the kids are talking about nowadays.
Cutting funds for wounded veterans- Inside The Line;
Mocking John Kerry’s Purple Heart- Inside The Line;
Calling triple amputee Max Cleland a traitor- Inside The Line;
Insulting John McCain’s war record- Over The Line, Sir, Beyond The Pale!
A certain contingent hates McCain like poison. It’s pretty much the same contingent that hates every Republican but for Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and now Donald Trump.
Yeah, their slogan is “We are the 27%”.
Exactly my sentiment. And I’m way past “not a fan”. It will be fascinating to see whether respect for service trumps (sorry) hatred of supposed RINOs.
@Gustopher: I’m too lazy to check, but counting the fire on the Forrestal I thought it was five.
If people don’t know the story – IIRC a missile was inadvertently fired from a plane parked on the flight deck when its starter cart was disconnected. The missile hit McCain’s parked, but fueled and armed, plane, starting the fire. McCain had to climb down the nose to get outside the flames. Maybe his bad luck alone was a good reason not to elect him Pres.
A sad footnote is that modern bombs of the time were designed to survive in a fire for a period of time, giving fire crews a window to fight the fire close up. They didn’t know that due to a bomb shortage there were Korean War era bombs in the mix. They cooked off, killing a number of fire fighters.
I think you may be right, just based on the media reaction so far. Every once in a while the news media collectively weighs in very heavily and decides to police some line crossing, and it looks like that may be the case here. I guess his previous incendiary immigrant statements and his continuous bigoted birther BS never bothered the media quite as much.
Uh, wrong, Doug. Many conservatives who were opposed to McCain’s nomination in 2008 mocked his military service.
Damn! I was hoping Trump was in it for the long run, and then he goes and torches himself. Oh well.
Yeah, he’s got another foot he can shoot – but I sure wish he would have held off for another 6-12 months.
He was one of the best things going for the Democratic Party!
I mean, hell, the Republican Party is in such disarray even train wrecks were stopping to watch their nomination process.
Interesting. I have no idea whether this sends his poll numbers up or down. I can make arguments either way, as have indeed been made up-thread. We’ll know in what, five days? Fascinating.
How I hope this doesn’t hurt him.
Trump on Facebook:
His “friends” don’t seem to like McCain much either.
My working theory is Trump is the sort of narcissist who can’t “quit”. A drama queen who subliminally would like to start his retirement and is engaging, to some degree sub-conciously, in self-destructive behavior to dismantle his media-personality career.
Things are getting out of hand for him though. He is still so entertaining that the media will allow him to dodge this and probably much much worse. I suppose it would be fitting, in an ironic sort of way, that he be dragged along through this process to a point of complete self-immolation.
Whenever I’m curious about something like this, I go read comments at the usual places. I’ve spent a lot of time doing that, because I think it’s a good way to find out which way that wind is blowing.
One of the top comments at Breitbart:
And that comment is typical of the high-rated comments there and elsewhere. So I think people like you and me should find that reassuring.
This campaign reminds me more and more of Mr Carlson on WKRP trying not to get elected to the city council after he accidentally let private information about his opponent slip. Hilarious. But the Republican base is so obnoxious they think it is real and what they want. Surreal.
My grandfather was a ship’s captain who was an unarmed merchant marine who was a prisoner of war of the Japanese. And, I;m part Jewish as well, where 6 million Jewish prisoners were victims of the Nazis. – POWs often could not avoid capture. Shame on Trump…
McCain’s reputation rides on his refusal to use his father’s status as way to get out early or get special treatment for himself in the camp, not his piloting ability. The NVA were trying to work on him using that angle. His fellow prisoners held him in high esteem and that says a heck of a lot.
For some reason this brought to mind a quintessential example of…
“Sometimes the worst soldiers are the best fighters.”
I have a Facebook “friend,” an acquaintance-by-marriage I’ve never actually met. He’s big on Cruz, thinks all the Republicans who came out against the Confederate flag are useless morons, etc. He’s just about the most rabidly batshit conservative I’ve ever encountered–there are times I think he’s just putting on an act, actually, but who knows? Some people actually do want to kill all the gays. He’s basically a walking stereotype.
Anyway, he’s one of those who has long considered McCain a “RINO” and he’s all stoked about Trump going after him. As far as he’s concerned Trump’s stock has risen greatly with these remarks. If he’s at all representative of the GOP base, and I’m pretty sure he is, this won’t hurt Trump at all.
I’m considering asking him why he’s on the side of the guy who avoided service with student deferments, but I generally just let his commentary go by unaddressed. Wouldn’t want to lose out on the entertainment value.
Well, that and he volunteered for combat duty. After the Forrestal fire, during which he was injured trying to help another pilot, he volunteered again.
And I think “refusing an early release” doesn’t quite sum up how much courage it took, after being tortured and beaten, to make that refusal and endure more years of abuse because of it.
I said this on my own blog, but will reiterate it. People always want a candidate who “says what he thinks”. And that’s part of Trump’s appeal. But the art of politics is saying what you think without pissing off half the country (or other countries). Trump’s skill in that is about as low as I’ve ever seen.
@Paul Hooson: “Shame on Trump…”
If he were capable of feeling pain, he wouldn’t be Trump…
do you guys remember in “back to the future” when Biff was able to take control of the town because he won all that money through sports gambling and he turned it into a violent, corrupt hellhole and built himself that giant tower to live in…
I don’t think this hurts Trump with the base a bit. Look at the GOPs record for spending cuts that hurt veterans. They love photos of the troops in uniform, and they love the idea of the US kicking some ass. Members of the military are swell props for jingoistic/militaristic fantasies.
Taking care of the actual people who come home afterwards, with the effort and cost that entails? They don’t seem to be very interested in that.
I don´t like McCain. But he went to war, and he faced things that i could not ever imagine myself doing. I know that we are talking about Trump, but I think that a little bit of decency would be nice.
This is so typically of the modern Republican Party. Slam, slime and slander Kerry’s record? No problem, because he’s ‘the other’. But do the same to one of our own ? Well, now they can see the offensiveness.
Say anything you want about Mexicans, call them all rapists and criminals, but don’t insult a rich old white guy…cause that’s over the line.
Looking around the inner-tubes I see the coward is back-tracking.
Someone with a Cheney-load of deferments probably shouldn’t have said someone else wasn’t a hero.
I would have gone with shitty f’ing pilot.
@anjin-san: A well stated, apt observation. This seems so obvious that it should be included as an issue in the upcoming elections, especially if the R’s try to make Iran an issue.
This is pretty goddam vile.
I was an active draft dodger. Qualified for College deferments. When those ran out because I never went to class and flunked out I was called for the physical and I didn’t go. They still haven’t found me.
All I have ever been able to say to the many Vietnam Veterans I have known over the last 45 years with all honesty is that I am glad that they did not come home in a body bag and that there was far too much of that.
One time a guy immediately replied “40,934”.
That was several years ago. The number still sticks in my head.
Well, except, of course, when it comes to paying for their medical bills, or education, or providing them with body armor and adequate equipment during conflicts, or ensuring that they don’t have to serve multiple tours — but yes, putting aside any and all concern for military members’ health and safety, the American right does take its devotion to the military very seriously. If by seriously you mean entirely symbolically.
Hmm.. OK Doug.
@wr: ” “Shame on Trump…”
If he were capable of feeling pain, he wouldn’t be Trump…”
Umm, feeling shame, that is…
I’m not sure I see the problem(s) here. Let’s take them one at a time.
1. Medical bills. Are you talking about active duty, or veterans health benefits? TRICARE is the most generous medical plan in America, and a huge drain on the budget. Veterans’ disability benefits have skyrocketed in recent years, around $80B per year last I checked. Veterans’ hospitals, while subject to their share of horror stories, are numerous and available to all veterans. What exactly do you think we ought to be doing but aren’t?
2. Education. The post-9/11 GI bill has numerous education benefits. It looks pretty generous to me, but I’m willing to be corrected.
3. Body armor. The sad fact is that body armor doesn’t really help against the major threats to our troops these days. Many troops choose not to wear it, preferring mobility (and comfort) to a mostly cosmetic level of protection. The public debate on this is driven by emotion and PR, not by analytics.
4. Adequate equipment. Other than body armor, what did you have in mind?
5. Multiple tours. This is a real problem, but it’s driven by recruiting and retention and force structure. In a volunteer force, if you don’t get enough qualified volunteers you have a problem, especially if you get involved in long-term “counter-insurgency” and “peacekeeping” operations. I’ll join you in blaming Republicans for which wars we chose to fight, but once they got into those situations, I’m not sure what choices they had about sending the only troops we had back out to fight again.
I’m happy to pile on the Republicans in most contexts, but in this particular case I don’t see the evidence for neglect of veterans. If anything, the extremely generous lifetime medical benefits (for career retirees) and disability adjudications (for practically all separating veterans) are helping to bankrupt the country.
@T: It would not surprise me if the writers of Back to the Future had Trump in mind when they designed Evil Biff World. The middle-aged Biff did have a weird combover that looked suspiciously similar to Trump’s….
I’m with you on this. My dad was a 20 year man, a warrant, 2 tours in Vietnam, and he retired at age 39.
He’s a lovely man, but seriously: 39? Fu*ker’s down in San Diego with a young wife and two pensions (shipping company after the Army.) And he’d still beat me in a foot race.
@Rafer Janders: for far too many people, “the military” is nothing more than a prop to wave around to show one’s patriotism. Worrying about the actual individuals? A bridge too far.
And it looks like Rafael Cruz isn’t going to do anything than be as obsequiously oleaginous as possible. Ugh. What a slimy little man.
Have to disagree with this last point. It’s driven by repeatedly starting totally pointless** wars because of hyper-masculine egos using cherry picked intelligence for electoral reasons with never a thought for an end game or the costs and probable consequences.
** Afghanistan was pointless from the POV that we were never going to make the necessary investment of resources to actually accomplish anything of substance. From any other POV it was questionable at best. That was obvious then, and it is undeniable now.
It’s INCREDIBLY generous, light-years ahead of the Montgomery GI Bill I got. That paid a flat rate per month, which covered less than half the actual tuition, directly to me (which made it a bit of a pain because I had to work out with the school how payments would be made). It didn’t cover books, and I had to work full-time at my civilian job because it didn’t pay me anything else. If I didn’t use it all, too bad, it was lost after 10 years.
The post-9/11 GI Bill pays 100% of the tuition and fees at any pubic university and $20K/year at private university. It pays them directly, so the recipient doesn’t have to fiddle with actually writing checks like I did. It has a $1000/year book stipend. It also pays the recipient at pay grade E-5 plus housing and food allowances, just as if the recipient were on active duty. And if the recipient happens to have some left over when they’re done, they can transfer it to their spouse or children.
Only slightly OT: it turns out that Bloom County is back. Suggestion is it that Berkley Breathed couldn’t resist the allure of The Donald.
Oh frabjous joy–Donald Trump running for POTUS and Bloom County to comment on the hilarity. Heck with the popcorn–pass the pate de fois gras, the caviar, and the champagne!
Typical of Trump. He goes off in a completely crazy direction with this stupid attack on McCain deal, way out of line, instead of addressing economic and foreign policy issues.
Donald had tapped into a lot of the frustration that the people had with the immigration issue, frustration and legitimate concerns the administration has ignored. It isn’t just Republicans he attracts. It was a large group of the middle class, made up of both parties, multicultural, multiracial, including immigrants who worked through the system and got here legally. Trump had awakened the “silent majority”. People are tired of the “tweedle dee, tweedle dumb” sound alike, controlled candidates who dodge the issues. Trump talked directly to the people, without scripts and “handlers”. The “establishment” corporate empire (including news media) felt that he was dangerous and tried to stop him. They did not like his independence and views on the trade deals that have hurt this country. They see him as someone they can’t control.
Trump is finished. But maybe someone else will take up the gauntlet of the American middle class.
Trump tells a 15-yr old Al Franken joke. The crowd goes mad…
And where, may I ask, is your evidence?
For those who actually live in reality, here are some of the actual numbers on The Donald:
the general public: 33% favorable
democrats: 19% favorable
independents: -23 net negative
Hispanics: 81% unfavorable
So where did you get the idea that he’s attracted a “silent majority” of the country?
The answer is clear: like Trump’s claims about Mexicans, you just made it up.
That’s the way Republicans think. I’m not even sure I’d call it lying. It’s more like they’ve never progressed past their Peter Pan stage, where if you only believe something hard enough, it becomes the truth: Tinkerbell is alive, Mexicans are rapists, and a “silent majority” supports Donald Trump.
You kind of skipped over this tidbit from your link
Oh, and as we might have known, the Washington Post, uh, mis-reported, what Trump said. Or in the real world lied like the journalist dogs they are. At least according to Sharyl Attkisson, who actually looks at what was said and what was reported.
Trump did say McCain was a war hero. But we didn’t need to see his fingers waggle with actual air quotes to discern his meaning.
And Sharyl Attkisson? Saying it was a misquote? I’m not familiar with her work, but does her audience tend to be dumb or do they genuinely thirst for such blatant dishonesty?
No, we don’t disagree about that — that’s what I meant about blaming Republicans for which wars we chose to start.
All I’m saying here is that nobody (Democrat or Republican or Pastafarian) is willing to fund a peacetime force size that would support sane troop rotations during two endless land wars. Once you start those wars, things like Stop Loss and fast turnarounds and turning the Guard and Reserves into essentially active forces becomes inevitable. Rather than accusing Republicans of being bad at troop rotations, accuse them of the much more serious root cause of being reckless warmongers.
(I also disagree somewhat on how justified our war on Afghanistan was, but I can’t disagree that we had no end game plan worth the label.)
@James Pearce: Looking over her previous “fact checks,” she appears to have anti-vax leanings:
he said what a lot of liberal wonks said about mccain back in ’08. sure his delivery is a little brusque but it’s the same message.
@James Pearce: “And Sharyl Attkisson? Saying it was a misquote? I’m not familiar with her work, but does her audience tend to be dumb or do they genuinely thirst for such blatant dishonesty?”
As evidenced by JKB himself.
@Kylopod: You’re not the only one to notice.
Not that that isn’t a precisely accurate description, or anything, but expect all the other candidates to dodge directly insulting Trump if at all possible. They know his fans will be looking for a new guy when The Donald unavoidably self-destructs. The relationship between those guys and the Party is roughly analogous to that of Jugalos and the Posse.
“Creepy! But they always buy a ticket…so….”
There’s certainly a little something to what Trump said. But I’m not sure why he had to be rude about it. If you want to question why being captured is heroic, that’s a fair question. But making fun of someone’s service, when they were tortured for over five years, is just not a quality I look for in a president.
Caught in spam somehow…
Over the years, conservative Repubs have for a long time considered McCain as a RINO. His choices and decisions have always been suspect.
Personally, I think Arizona could have been better represented by someone else.
Afghanistan seemed to start as a large scale raid to get Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but somehow morphed into a perpetual war against the Taliban. As someone pointed out, Taliban isn’t an organization, it’s a lifestyle. It’s like invading Georgia to defeat the rednecks. Who speaks for all of them and can sign a surrender?
John McCain Election results.
US House AZ 1: 1982 Won by 65.9%…1984 Won by 78.1%
US Senate AZ: 1986 Won by 60.6%…1992 Won by 60.6%…1998 by 68.7%…2004 Won by 76%…2010 Won by 59.2%
Clearly your gripe is with the voters of Arizona.
@gVOR08: Afghanistan started with parallel purposes: both to hunt down bin Laden and to depose and replace the Taliban-led government which had provided aid and shelter to al Qaeda and allowed it to train terrorists and plan operations (such as the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Africa). Even prior to 9/11 the US was seeking to provide assistance to the anti-Taliban “Northern Alliance.”
After 9/11 the US government made direct demands of the Taliban to turn over bin Laden, and they refused, so on 7 October 2001 US forces invaded. The Taliban government was driven from power pretty quickly, but most of them and their adherents weren’t killed or captured, instead escaping into the rugged terrain, evading coalition forces and the anti-Taliban “Northern Alliance.” These escaped Taliban instituted an insurgency which persists to this day.
Of course, this being Afghanistan the inter-relationships and outside influences are a whole lot more complex and sometimes confusing and my account above is probably overly simplistic, but IIRC it’s pretty much the outline of how things have gone.
I’m not sure that “depose and replace” is an accurate representation of US intentions at that time. “Eradicate” is closer. The primary motivation was to retaliate against a government that had dared such an attack on US soil, partly out of anger and partly to make it clear to the rest of the world that you can’t do that and live. Worrying about what would come next for Afghanistan… well, that came later. Sort of.
Of course, as you note, we failed somewhat in our deterrence objective.
@DrDaveT: Well, yes, “eradicate” as well, but look at the timeline. The invasion was early October 2001, the Afghan Interim Authority led by Hamid Karzai was established in late December 2001. That’s pretty quick.
At the same time, though, the AIA was really only authoritative in Kabul and its immediate environs, and the ISAF was at that time small and also generally limited to the Kabul area.
@michael reynolds: You may have no idea how this will impact his poll numbers, but I do — it will send his poll numbers up.
This helps Trump.
The GOP base can’t stand McCain because McCain is responsible for the sack of garbage currently sitting in the White House.
I dare anyone to google:
John McCain and Songbird
John McCain and Songbird
John McCain and Songbird
John McCain and Songbird
John McCain and Songbird