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Trump Insists He Called McCain A War Hero, But Video Suggests Otherwise

Time to start Tweeting an apology.

 

Donald Trump isn’t apologizing for saying Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is “not a war hero.” Instead, he’s taken to blasting the media for supposedly taking his message out of context.

Trump called in to the "Today" show this morning. "If you saw what I said and if you saw the press conference afterwards, Savannah [Guthrie] and the media has done such a false number, as usual," Trump told Matt Lauer. 

Let’s take a look at this claim. On Saturday, Trump spoke with GOP pollster Frank Luntz at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. 

Luntz pointed to comments McCain made in an interview with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, in which the Arizona senator called Trump’s anti-immigration rally in Phoenix “very bad” and said that Trump’s performance had only served to “[fire] up the crazies.” Trump responded on Twitter, calling McCain a "dummy."

Luntz asked Trump if he thought it was appropriate to call a man who had spent over five years as a prisoner of war a "dummy." Trump shook his head -- apparently appalled at the idea that he was capable of any wrongdoing. Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

Trump: "I supported [McCain] for president. I raised $1 million for him -- that’s a lot of money. I supported him. He lost, he let us down. But you know, he lost, so I never liked him as much after that because I don’t like losers. But Frank -- Frank let me get to it. He hit me --"

Luntz: "He’s a war hero --"

Trump: "He’s not a war hero --"

Luntz: "He’s a war hero --"

Trump: "He is a war hero --"

Luntz: "Five and half years in a --"

Trump: "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you."

Luntz (to the crowd): "Do you agree with that?"

Trump: "He’s a war hero because he was captured, OK. You can have -- and I believe, perhaps, he’s a war hero. But right now, he said some bad things about a lot of people."

Technically, yes, Trump did say that McCain is a war hero, but that is taking his own words out of context, as PolitiFact explains. 

Dr. Kathleen Kendall, a professor of political communication at the University of Maryland, told Politifact Trump was basically saying there is nothing special about McCain, regardless of his "war hero" title.

"'He’s a war hero because he was captured' implies that anybody who is captured is called a war hero, but there’s really nothing special about them," she said. 

McCain responded to Trump’s comments on "Morning Joe" Monday, saying that Trump doesn’t owe him an apology but that he owes an apology to veterans and their families, especially "those who have undergone the prison experience in serving our country."

Guess it’s time for Trump to reconsider that apology.