What a way to start the week.
Donald Trump insisted Saturday that Sen. John McCain is not a war hero, but in an interview Monday, he conceded that the lawmaker is indeed a war hero. Speaking via telephone with Today's Matt Lauer, Trump refused to apologize for comments he made during the Family Leadership Summit at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. At the rally, 69-year-old Trump argued that 78-year-old McCain—a former naval pilot taken prisoner for almost six years during the Vietnam War—is "not a war hero," saying, "He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK?" Later on, the business magnate said, "He's a war hero because he was captured. OK? And I believe...perhaps he's a war hero."
Trump's competition was quick to criticize him.
Jeb Bush disagreed with Trump, while Lindsey Graham said he "crossed a line," while Scott Walker said he "needs to apologize." Several veterans groups also blasted the presidential hopeful, calling his remarks "despicable" and "an insult."
In an op-ed for USA Today published Sunday, Trump wrote, "McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them." Trump also accused "the news media of distorting my words" from Saturday's event.
"These comments that you made about John McCain, it seems to me that this part of some personal resentment you have against John McCain and perhaps he has for you. This is a feud that's boiled over into a war of words and it's less about how you would define a war hero," he told Trump. "Is that fair?"
"Well, I'm not a fan of John McCain. He's doing a terrible job for the vets," Trump replied. " I go around, Matt, on the circuit and I see so many vets and I see families crying before me. They can't see doctors. They're waiting in reception rooms for five and six days—"