Sen. John McCain, the target of Donald Trump’s ire all weekend, took the high road Monday.
Trump doesn’t owe him an apology for being dismissive of his Vietnam war record, McCain, R-Ariz., said.
Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” if he owes him an apology, McCain said, “No, 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.”
Trump, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Saturday told the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa that McCain was “not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’ t captured.”
McCain spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war. He refrained from commenting over the weekend, as Trump’s rivals for the Republican presidential nomination condemned the comments and the candidate.
McCain Monday insisted he was not the hero. “When Mr. Trump said that he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes,” McCain said.
“I'm not a hero. But those who were my senior ranking officers, people like Colonel Bud Day, Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, those who have inspired us to do things that we otherwise would not have been capable of doing. Those are the people that I think he owes an apology to.”
McCain stoked Trump’s anger when he said the real estate mogul had “fired up the crazies” with his tough talk about undocumented immigrants.
“Listen, you know my state is a very dynamic and divisive state and we have got lots of arguments and lots of debates going on. I have hundreds of town hall meetings all over Arizona and I'm called crazy by the people who come there. I thought it was a term of endearment,” McCain said.
He made it clear that debates about the Vietnam War are over.
“For me to look back in anger at anyone is nonproductive and our country is -- was divided in almost unprecedented fashion during the Vietnam War and when I came home, I was shocked,” he recalled. “And so I worked ever since to try to heal those wounds. I spend time with veterans, I do everything I can to help them. As you know, there are major scandals going on. I had two pieces of legislation to try to help that issue and the suicide rate, which is so high.
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. “