U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump, among the top contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, refused Sunday to back off his attack on the Vietnam War record of Senator John McCain, the party's 2008 presidential candidate who was tortured during his five years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi in the 1960s.
Trump has drawn wide rebukes from his Republican opponents, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the leading Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At an Iowa campaign forum Saturday, Trump said McCain "is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."
Asked Sunday on ABC's This Week program if he owed the 78-year-old McCain an apology, Trump replied, "No, not at all." He went on to attack McCain's support for U.S. veterans, saying, "John McCain has failed. I believe that I will do far more for veterans than John McCain has done for many, many years, with all talk no action.... Nothing gets done."
Kerry, another Vietnam veteran who was the losing Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, said, "John McCain is a hero, a man of grit and guts and character personified. He served and bled and endured unspeakable acts of torture. If anyone doesn't know that John McCain is a war hero, it only proves they know nothing about war and even less about heroism."
A leading Republican presidential contender, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of former U.S. presidents, said, "Enough with the slanderous attacks." Other Republican candidates also heaped scorn on Trump, with some calling for his withdrawal from the campaign as "unfit" to be president and assume the role as the country's commander-in-chief.
Clinton condemned Trump's remarks. But she also accused the Republican candidates of being slow to repudiate Trump's other controversial statements aimed at Mexicans illegally crossing the U.S. border when he said some of them are bringing drugs and crime to the U.S. and are rapists.
McCain has not responded to Trump's remarks about his time in the "Hanoi Hilton," as the U.S. servicemen called the POW camp. But his daughter, 30-year-old broadcaster Meghan McCain, expressed her outrage on her Twitter account.
"I can't believe what I am reading this morning," she said. "Horrified. Disgusted. There are no words."