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Trump: 'Hero' McCain's 'Done a Terrible Job for Vets'

Trump: 'Hero' McCain's 'Done a Terrible Job for Vets'
(Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 20 July 2015 08:15 AM

Donald Trump continued to double down on his comments over the weekend that questioned Sen. John McCain's status as a war hero, insisting the senior Arizona lawmaker has "done a terrible job for the vets" and failed to secure the U.S. border.

"I go around on the circuit and I see so many vets, families crying before me," the real estate mogul and GOP presidential candidate on Monday told NBC's "Today" show host Matt Lauer.  "They can't see doctors. They wait in reception rooms for five, six days."

Trump has been under fire from the large GOP field — with the notable exception of Ted Cruz — after saying on Saturday that McCain is "not a war hero" and is, in fact, a "loser." McCain, a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War, was shot down and held for more than five years in North Vietnam's "Hanoi Hilton" prison, where he was repeatedly tortured.

Trump said his comments were in response to McCain calling the thousands of supporters who turned out for a Trump appearance on illegal immigration "crazies," and insisted that he reversed himself within minutes, calling McCain a hero, but that his critics refuse to acknowledge that.

"I'm saying John McCain has done a horrible job," Trump told the "Today" show. "The VA [ Department of Veterans Affairs] is a scandalous, corrupt organization, a disgrace, the way it is being run and the veterans are suffering.

"With that being said, if you saw what I said and saw the press conference afterwards, Savannah [Guthrie] and the media just has done such a false number, as usual."

Trump criticized the media for focusing on that one statement at his Saturday address at an Iowa Christian summit. There, Trump said McCain is "not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured. ... Perhaps he is a war hero, but right now, he said some very bad things about a lot of people."

Trump, in Monday's phone interview, complained that Guthrie started the segment with him by insisting that "I said he wasn't a war hero. If you would have let it run another three seconds, you would have said that I said he is a war hero.

"I have no problem with that. What I do have problems with is he [McCain] called 15,000 people that showed up for me to speak in Phoenix. He called them crazies because they want to stop illegal immigration. They were insulted. They were great Americans."

Lauer pointed out that the other part of the comments were run, too, to which Trump complained that Guthrie "started off by saying I said he was not a war hero. I never said that. I said he was a war hero, Matt. You misrepresent like everybody else."

Lauer told Trump that he went to Vietnam with McCain in 2000, and it had a "profound effect" on him.

Trump told him that he said "four times" that McCain was a hero, pointing out that journalist Sharyl Attkisson did an exposé that said he was being "mistreated."

Trump added that he has a problem with what McCain is doing on the border.

"He's terrible," said Trump. "I have a problem with the illegal immigration is a disaster. He's doing a horrible jobber for the vets ... frankly, illegal immigrants are treated better than many of the vets. It is a disgrace what's happening, and John McCain has done nothing but talk."

And Trump denied that he has sent the wrong message to prisoners of war.

"I don't think so," said Trump. "I also respect people that aren't captured. Nobody talks about them. We talk about John McCain. I think it's great. We don't talk about the people who weren't captured. That's what I was trying to refer to. I think I did. If you see the news conference a few minutes afterwards, everything was perfect. I never thought it would be an issue."

Meanwhile, Trump said, "the polls are saying I'm doing well ... I'm leading Nevada by a large number and mostly leading the Hispanics. I'm leading by a tremendous margin on the Hispanics. That's the way it is."

On Sunday, in an article for USA Today,  Trump said he doesn't need lectures from other GOP presidential candidates — calling many of them "failed politicians" — and insisted he has a proven record of support for veterans.

The Republican National Committee has also criticized Trump for what he said about McCain, but, as Trump noted in his USA Today piece, "no one in the news media or the establishment, including the Republican National Committee, criticized" McCain when he called Trump supporters in Phoenix "crazies."

"The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obama with the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty," he wrote. 

Some critics said Trump insulted all veterans — especially POWs — when he insinuated McCain was a war hero only because he was captured by the enemy.

Watch the video here.

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Donald Trump continued to double down on his comments over the weekend that questioned Sen. John McCain's status as a war hero, insisting the senior Arizona lawmaker has "done a terrible job for the vets" and failed to secure the U.S. border.
donald trump, john mccain, veterans, pows, media
Monday, 20 July 2015 08:15 AM
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