The feud between Donald Trump and, well, pretty much everyone continues.
On Saturday morning at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, the Republican presidential candidate expressed his discontent with Arizona Sen. John McCain, who had accused Trump of “firing up the crazies’’ at his rally in Phoenix earlier this week,The New Yorker reported.
Trump defended his growing group of followers, claiming that McCain had insulted him and his supporters—15,000 great Americans, according to Trump—attending the rally. But of course, Trump didn’t just stay on the defensive—he made sure to take a shot at McCain, too.
After moderator Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, referred to McCain as “a war hero,’’ Trump had the following response.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,’’ he said. “I like people who weren’t captured.’’
That got a bunch of the other Republican candidates going, taking to Twitter to either call out Trump or support McCain and other veterans.
.@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero, period.— Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum) July 18, 2015
(Trump has said he used student and medical deferments to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. He also said he wasn’t “a big fan of the Vietnam war,’’ the Associated Press reported.)
Just told a crowd in Sioux City: @SenJohnMcCain is an American hero— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) July 18, 2015
After Donald Trump spends six years in a POW camp, he can weigh in on John McCain's service— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) July 18, 2015
Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans - particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) July 18, 2015
The Republican National Committee Chief Strategist and Communications Director Sean Spicer issued a statement later in the afternoon as well, noting that Trump’s views do not represent the party as a whole.
“Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,’’ Spicer’s statement said.
Even when his comment was greeted with gasps from the audience, Trump didn’t back down immediately. Later that afternoon, however, he did release a statement in an attempt to clarify what he said.
“I am not a fan of John McCain because he has done so little for our Veterans and he should know better than anybody what Veterans need,’’ the release said. “I have great respect for all those who serve in our military including those that weren’t captured and are also heroes.’’
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Trump thinks McCain is a “dummy’’ for graduating last in his class, or is a loser for letting Republicans, including Trump, who says he raised $1 million for McCain’s campaign, down in the 2008 election.
.@SenJohnMcCain should be defeated in the primaries. Graduated last in his class at Annapolis--dummy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2015
In addition to doing a lousy job in taking care of our Vets, John McCain let us down by losing to Barack Obama in his run for President!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2015
In the release, Trump also made sure to note that he “left to a long lasting standing ovation, which will be by far the biggest ovation of the weekend, and much congratulatory praise.’’
Just in case anyone forgot about that detail after all the drama started.
Trump’s campaign provided the statement, but refused to comment further. McCain’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Gallery: 2016 presidential candidates