When Donald Trump jumped into the 2016 presidential race, many questioned his seriousness. Was he really going to stick with the campaign or was he just in the race to generate publicity for the Trump brand? Would he be a third party spoiler like Ross Perot who would just splinter off Republican votes? Recently, The Donald’s critics received a comeuppance when Trump started leading in the polls. Apparently, his tough talk on immigration and his refusal to be politically correct resonate with voters. While some individuals were offended by his comments that the illegal aliens arriving in the U.S. from Mexico are “drug dealers and rapists”, others applauded his boldness in calling a spade a spade.
However, many say he went too far when he attacked Senator John McCain’s (R-Arizona) war hero status during a candidate’s event at The Family Leadership Summit in Ames Iowa. “He’s not a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured”, Trump commented. Following these statements, Trump refused to apologize to McCain, asserting that McCain owed the veterans an apology for calling them “crazies”. And while some have tried to nuance Trump’s comments by saying that he was not attacking McCain’s status as a veteran, rather he was attacking his track record in the Senate as an advocate for veterans, he offended many including his GOP competitors. Senator Marco Rubio stated that Trump’s words disqualify him as commander in chief.” Other GOP 2016 candidates including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and The Republican National Committee have also condemned Trump’s remarks. For his part, McCain has not asked for an apology from Trump for himself, but for all the veterans who have been prisoners of war.
Many view military experience as a sacred cow which cannot be attacked. Others also say that Trump is overlooking the good work which McCain, the 2008 GOP candidate for president, has done on behalf of the veterans including his recent efforts to advance The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 in the wake of the scandal where veterans were experiencing over 30 day waits for appointments at Veterans Administration facilities.
Concerned Veterans for America CEO and Fox Contributor Pete Hegseth described Trump as “A man who received four student deferments to avoid service in the Vietnam” with “absolutely no credibility to attack someone like John McCain who volunteered to serve his country and suffered five and a half years of torture as a result.” By contrast, Veterans for a Strong America took little issue with Trump’s comments, stating that “The feuding between Mr. Trump and Senator McCain has nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s high regard for the military or veterans. Donald Trump has a history of calling out people and groups that don’t deliver results. But, Senator McCain is also a politician and what Donald Trump has tapped into is that people just don’t trust politicians and the slow pace the Congress is moving in addressing critical issues like border security, veteran’s issues and military funding. Donald Trump has a history of calling out people and groups that don’t deliver results. “
So how is this debacle going to shake out for Trump? Is he going to be lambasted for attacking McCain and all veterans? Or is he going to be recognized for being unafraid to criticize what he views as inefficiency and incompetence? Will the author of “The Art of the Deal” and the creator of “The Apprentice” figure out a way to spin this?
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