While campaigning in Iowa this weekend, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump lashed out at Sen. John McCain’s military record, saying, “I like people that weren’t captured.”
McCain, a former Navy pilot, was shot down over Vietnam while flying his 23rd mission during the Vietnam War. He spent more than five years as a prisoner of war at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was starved and tortured by the North Vietnamese.
Trump, who claims he raised a million dollars for McCain in 2008, said today during the Family Leadership Summit event in Ames that he doesn’t like McCain as much now as he did then, because McCain lost.
“I don’t like losers,” Trump quipped.
“But he’s a war hero,” moderator Frank Luntz interjected. “He’s a war hero!”
“He’s not a ‘war hero,'” Trump responded. “He’s a ‘war hero’ because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay? I hate to tell you.”
Although, his comments were met with shocked boos and jeers from the crowd, Trump doubled down.
“He’s a ‘war hero’ because he was captured, okay?” Trump repeated.
The wealthy New York real estate tycoon who made a name for himself by firing people on the reality show The Apprentice never served in the U.S. military. According to documents obtained by The Smoking Gun in 2011, although Trump was drafted in 1969, he applied for and received four separate student deferments that allowed him to evade military service. He also applied for and received a separate medical deferment after he graduated from college:
Despite Donald Trump’s claim this week that he avoided serving in the Vietnam War solely due to a high draft number, Selective Service records show that the purported presidential aspirant actually received a series of student deferments while in college and then topped those off with a medical deferment after graduation that helped spare him from fighting for his country, The Smoking Gun has learned.
By the time his number (356) was drawn during the December 1, 1969 draft lottery, Trump had already received four student deferments and a medical deferment, according to military records on file with the National Archives and Records Administration. An extract of Trump’s Selective Classification record, seen here, was provided in response to a TSG records request.
Trump’s comments attacking McCain’s military service were met with immediate condemnation. Rick Perry, a former Air Force pilot and one of the only current Republican presidential candidates who served in the military, demanded that Trump drop out of the race:
“As a veteran and an American, I respect Sen. McCain because he volunteered to serve his country,” Perry said in a statement. “I cannot say the same of Mr. Trump.”
“His attack on veterans makes him unfit to be Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, and he should immediately withdraw from the race for President,” Perry concluded.
Donald Trump has said he will not apologize for his remarks.