In a strongly worded op-ed, presidential hopeful Rick Perry today unloaded on rival Donald Trump for his inflammatory comments on Sen. John McCain, border security and racial politics.
“Being president of the United States is serious business, not a reality TV show,” said Perry, a former Texas governor in the first of several zingers at the New York billionaire. The op-ed appeared in the National Review, a conservative outlet. Trump hosted “The Apprentice” on NBC until he announced he was running for president.
Trump angered military veterans and most Republicans and Democrats when he said Saturday that McCain, a Vietnam War POW held in captivity for over five years, was not a hero because he had been captured. The Arizona GOP senator was the party’s 2008 presidential nominee.
“I believe strongly that Mr. Trump’s philosophy is not conservatism, but rather a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense,” said Perry.
“Mr. Trump’s absurdity reached a new low over the weekend, when he spit in the eye of every American prisoner of war, particularly Senator John McCain. But frankly, we should expect no better from a man who couldn’t be bothered to answer the call to serve his nation when it needed him most.”
Trump, 69, had student deferments during the Vietnam War and told reporters Saturday that he had gotten a medical deferment because of a bone spur in his foot - although when asked he could not remember in which foot.
Perry, 65, was a U.S. Air Force pilot who served in the 1970s.
“As a veteran and the son of a veteran, I find Mr. Trump’s brand of vitriol particularly offensive, and I have no confidence that he could adeptly lead our nation’s armed forces,” said Perry. The former Texas governor repeated his call on Saturday for Trump to step down as a candidate. “His comments over the weekend should completely and immediately disqualify him from seeking our nation’s highest office,” said Perry, who was one of the first GOP candidates to denouce Trump’s comments about McCain.
In the op-ed, the former Texas governor also criticized Trump for not knowing anything about the Mexican border and for being divisive on race. In his presidential announcement speech in June Trump labeled Mexicans entering the U.S. illegally “rapists” and criminals - comments that brought a backlash from the Hispanic community.
“Playing identity politics takes a page right out of the Democrats’ playbook, and we Republicans are better than that,” said Perry, who gave a recent speech at the National Press Club saying the GOP had to do more to reach out to minorities.