- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 19, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Sunday he doesn’t owe Sen. John McCain an apology for saying over the weekend that the senator, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for six years, isn’t a true war hero.

In a phone interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Trump — who sits atop the Republican field in some polls — said his fellow candidates are blowing his comments out of proportion because they’re jealous or scared of his political power. He also strongly denied that he owes Mr. McCain an apology after making the comments at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa.

“No, not at all,” Mr. Trump said. “I got a standing ovation, the biggest ovation they had all weekend, by far. When I left the room, it was a total standing ovation. It was wonderful to see. Nobody was insulted. What happened is, later on the Republican candidates, some of whom are registering 1 percent and zero [in the polls], and they’re very upset I’m leading the polls by actually a nice margin, they’re very upset.”

Some of Mr. Trump’s fellow candidates have called for him to withdraw immediately from the race after his comments about Mr. McCain, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and the party’s 2008 presidential nominee.

At the summit, Mr. Trump downplayed Mr. McCain’s status as a war hero.

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured. He’s a war hero because he was captured,” the real estate mogul said.

Mr. Trump later clarified that he does, in fact, consider Mr. McCain a war hero.

But the attempted backtracking wasn’t enough for other top Republican contenders. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Mr. Trump is “unfit” and should leave the race.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on Mr. Trump’s heels in most polls, said “enough with the slanderous attacks” following the comments about Mr. McCain.

Other conservative leaders say Mr. Trump doesn’t belong in the race.

Donald Trump is a clown … He needs to be out of the race,” Michael Needham, CEO of the group Heritage Action for America, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In the face of such criticism, Mr. Trump has refused to back down. He said Mr. McCain failed the Republican Party by losing to President Obama in the 2008 election.

“I’m very disappointed. I understand John McCain. I’ve backed John McCain — raised, I think, $1 million for John McCain when he let us down. He ran for president and lost to Obama, let us down. I wasn’t thrilled with that,” Mr. Trump said. “But I will say what I want to say, and maybe that’s why I’m leading in the polls because people are tired of hearing politicians and pollsters telling the politicians exactly what to say.”

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