Mike Huckabee tore into Donald Trump on Monday, telling Newsmax TV
the billionaire developer's controversial swipe at Sen. John McCain's war record is "disrespectful" to all military veterans.
Appearing on "The Steve Malzberg Show," the former governor of Arkansas, who like Trump is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said:
"There's a difference between criticizing John McCain's Senate record, his actions … but do not question his patriotism, his heroism, his fidelity to this country because he was a hero, he is a hero."
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"That doesn't mean that I have to agree with this political positions as deference to his war activities, but by God I have to accept that what he did was incredibly heroic.
"People need to remember that Donald Trump is not being criticized because he went after McCain on immigration or went after McCain on the VA. He's being criticized because he downplayed what McCain did as a prisoner of war and he treated it with disrespect."
Last week, Trump, who is seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, said McCain is "not a war hero," adding, He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."
"You simply cannot do that because that is disrespectful not just to POW's, it's disrespectful to every veteran," Huckabee told Steve Malzberg.
"Let me be clear, whether a person is a POW or has a purple heart, any person, man or woman who puts a uniform of the United States military on is to me a hero because they signed up to put themselves between me and a bullet and they're heroes.
"They keep me free, I enjoy the freedom of this country because of the sacrifice and the service that they render. I am duty-bound as an American to respect that service which they provide."
Asked whether Trump should apologize to McCain, Huckabee said:
"It's his decision to make but that shouldn't because of pressure, it should be because he realizes that what he said was simply wrong.
"I don't want people to pressure me into saying something that I don't believe.... Let me say I respect that he's maintained his position. I disagree with it but I want to be also as clear as I can be. I'm not getting into this race to react to everything Donald Trump says."
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