The White House today agreed with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for saying Donald Trump should apologize to all veterans for his comments that POWs aren’t automatically war heroes.
“He’s not a war hero,” said Trump on Saturday Iowa. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured… He’s a war hero because he was captured. OK, I believe — perhaps he’s a war hero.”
McCain said this morning on MSNBC that Trump doesn’t owe him an apology, “but I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country.”
“I’m in the arena, as T.R. used to say, but in the case of many of our veterans, when Mr. Trump said that he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I’m not a hero,” he said. “But those who were my senior ranking officers, people like Colonel Bud Day, Congressional Medal of Honor Winner, those who have inspired us to do things that we otherwise would not have been capable of doing. Those are the people that I think he owes an apology to.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today “that even in the midst of their competitive 2008 campaign for the White House, that Senator Obama expressed his admiration and deep respect for Senator McCain’s heroism.”
“Their political differences between Senator McCain and President Obama have continued even while President Obama has been in office, but those debates have not reduced his appreciation for Senator McCain’s remarkable service to the country,” Earnest said. “The fact is the most notable comment in this episode came from Senator McCain himself, who I think pretty selflessly made clear that he didn’t really care about an apology, but he did believe that our military veterans are entitled to one.”
Earnest said he agreed with McCain that Trump should apologize to veterans.
“I do think it warrants lifting up the selfless example that Senator McCain has established here today, in terms of suggesting that he doesn’t really care about an apology for himself, he suggested that, as somebody who’s in the political arena, he’s taken his own fair share of criticism, and he can handle it,” he said. “But he is right when he says that our veterans are the ones who are entitled to an apology.”
Earnest alluded to a conversation with Obama about Trump’s jump in the polls, but wouldn’t go into detail.
“I haven’t had a detailed conversation with the president about this, but obviously there’s a spirited process that’s underway on the Republican side and, you know, this will be a significant challenge for Republican candidates, but they’ll ultimately have to navigate their way through this process,” he said.
“I don’t have more details of that conversation to share with you.”
Earnest later added that he’s “not going to render judgment on the millions of Americans who have bravely put on the uniform of this country” regarding who is and isn’t a hero.
“Is Bowe Bergdahl a hero?” a reporter asked.
“I’m not going to get into those kinds of classifications,” Earnest replied.