Veterans line up behind McCain against Trump

Veterans line up behind McCain against Trump
© Getty Images

A group representing retired military officers called Monday for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier DNC says it was targeted by Russian hackers after fall midterms BuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' MORE to apologize to Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO Mark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally MORE and all veterans for his disparaging remarks about the Arizona Republican's military service during the Vietnam War.

"We should acknowledge the facts: John McCain cares deeply about our men and women in uniform, and through his actions, he has made a real difference for our troops. Mr. Trump owes Senator McCain and all veterans an apology," said Retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, president and CEO of Military Officers Association of America.

ADVERTISEMENT

At a Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, the real estate mogul and 2016 presidential candidate said in regards to McCain, "He's not a war hero...He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." 

His remarks, in response to McCain saying Trump had fired up the anti-immigration "crazies" at a recent Phoenix rally, prompted a strong rebuke from Republicans and veterans group, who rallied to McCain's defense. 

Trump addressed his remarks in a USA Today op-ed on Sunday, saying that the media had distorted his words and that McCain had "abandoned" veterans. 

The group defended McCain's record on helping veterans. 

“Senator McCain will not say it, but let me state the obvious: John McCain is a military hero, and most importantly, he has always been a champion for the all-volunteer-force and our nation’s veterans," Ryan said. 

"We can disagree with some of Senator McCain’s positions at times, but we can never say he has abandoned the troops," he said. 

He noted that under McCain, the Armed Services Committee had a full debate and vote on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act — which funds the Pentagon and the military — for the first time in three years. 

"John McCain has proven his sincerity and passion for the troops. Leadership is about setting an example and not words," he said, adding, "no one has visited our troops in Afghanistan or Iraq more than John McCain." 

McCain last visited troops in Afghanistan over the July 4 weekend. 

Other veterans groups have rallied to McCain's defense as well. 

"Trump’s asinine comments about Sen. John McCain’s service are an insult to everyone who has ever worn the uniform — and to all Americans," wrote Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America wrote in a New York Daily News op-ed on Monday. 

"He is very capable of defending himself, but a public attack on one veteran’s service is an attack on us all," he added.  

And John W. Stroud, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, also bashed Trump.

“For someone who never served a day in uniform to criticize the service and sacrifice of a combat-wounded veteran is despicable," he said, according to the Washington Post.