In his previous life as a comedian, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) made comments regarding John McCain which were very similar to those currently plaguing Donald Trump. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:
[A 2000 Salon article] quotes Franken as saying “I have tremendous respect for McCain but I don’t buy the war hero thing. Anybody can be captured. I thought the idea was to capture them. As far as I’m concerned he sat out the war.”
The remark proves nearly identical to Trump’s made in front of an Iowa crowd on Saturday. 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.”
In light of the fresh attention which Trump’s remarks have brought to Franken’s past statements, the Minnesota senator had to do some damage control during a Monday news conference.
Franken said he admired McCain because he declined a chance to be released, choosing instead to remain a prisoner of war so as to not give his captors a propaganda victory.
“Here’s someone who spent five-and-a-half years being tortured in these camps,” Franken said Monday “… but what a lot of people don’t understand is that he had the opportunity to leave early because his father was the admiral who commanded the whole Pacific fleet.”
He added: “McCain, who as I said was being tortured there, declined. That’s an amazing feat of courage.”
He also condemned Trump’s remarks from Saturday, saying “I don’t know what’s going on in Donald Trump’s head or through his hair, but I condemn him for a lot of things he’s said.”
For his part, Trump continues to stand behind his criticism of McCain.