Donald Trump escalated his feud with Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain Saturday in a way that probably wasn’t the most politically astute.
Appearing at the 2015 Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, Trump decided to make the case that McCain is not a war hero. Asked by moderator Frank Luntz why he would call a war hero like McCain a “loser,” Trump replied, “He’s not a war hero.”
“He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said sarcastically. “I like people who weren’t captured, I hate to tell you.”
McCain spent five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison where he was routinely tortured after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War.
After hearing boos from the crowd, Trump backed off a bit: “Perhaps he’s a war hero but right now he said some very bad things about a lot of people.”
Trump was referring to McCain calling the people who attended Trump’s recent immigration rally in Arizona “crazies.”
“This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful to me,” McCain recently told the New Yorker magazine, speaking of Trump’s July 11 rally. “Because what he did was he fired up the crazies.”
The Washington Post reported Friday that Trump is trying to recruit a primary challenger in Arizona to try to defeat McCain in his 2016 re-election bid.