Real-estate magnate Donald Trump’s latest comments were a bridge too far for many top Republican presidential rivals. And at least one candidate wants him out of the race.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Trump should be disqualified from running for president.
“His attack on veterans make him him unfit to be Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, and he should immediately withdraw from the race for President,” Perry said in a statement.
At an event in Iowa on Saturday, Trump raised eyebrows for criticising Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) military service and status as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said.
Trumps’ comments sparked immediate condemnation from the Republican presidential field. Perry was the first to explicitly call for him to withdraw from the race.
“I respect Sen. McCain because he volunteered to serve his country,” Perry said in a statement. “I cannot say the same of Mr. Trump. His comments have reached a new low in American politics.”
GOP candidate and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), McCain’s long-time friend, also said Trump’s comments were “disqualifying.” Other Republican hopefuls, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), condemned Trump’s remarks.
Trump was quick to slightly tone down his comments about McCain, though he did not apologise.
“He is yet another all talk, no action politician who spends too much time on television and not enough time doing his job and helping the [veterans],” Trump said in a statement. “He is also allowing our military to decrease substantially in size and strength, something which should never be allowed to happen.”
As it has done when defending controversial comments in the past, Trump’s campaign cited the excitement in the crowd as proof that his message resonated with the crowd.
“Note, Mr. Trump left to a long lasting standing ovation, which will be by far the biggest ovation of the weekend, and much congratulatory praise,” an statement from the Trump campaign said.
Trump’s comments come after McCain criticised the real estate mogul earlier this month for bringing out “the crazies” in the Republican base.
Perry — a former cargo-plane pilot in the Air Force — made military service a major part of his presidential campaign. In his announcement speech last month, the former governor was joined onstage with several veterans and the wife of sharpshooter Chris Kyle, made famous by the semi-biographical film American Sniper.
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