Donald Trump continued his feud with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Saturday when he criticized the military record of the onetime prisoner of war.
"He's a war hero because he was captured," Trump said during an appearance at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday. "I like people who weren't captured."
"Perhaps he's a war hero, but right now he's said some very bad things about a lot of people."
McCain spent five and a half years in a North Vietnam prison where he was tortured after his Skyhawk dive bomber was shot down in 1967. President Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential race, has praised the Arizona senator as a "genuine war hero."
Trump avoided the draft with four student and one medical deferments.
Trump and McCain have gone back and forth this week after the Arizona senator told The New Yorker that Trump "fired up the crazies" with comments he made about undocumented immigrants during a rally in Phoenix. Trump, in characteristic fashion, fired back on Twitter, calling McCain a "dummy."
Trump said that he would not apologize to McCain for the comments, and defended his deferments to reporters. During a media availability after the comments, he denied that he had questioned McCain's military record.
"I am not blaming John McCain. He gets captured, he gets captured. People get captured. They are brave men because they were in the field," Trump said.
Several of Trump's Republican rivals were quick to come to McCain's defense, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that Trump was "unfit" to be president and should drop out of the race. The Republican National Committee also distanced itself from Trump's comments.
"Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably," the RNC said in a statement.
One notable exception was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has stood up for Trump and met with him last week. Cruz did not denounce Trump's comments on Saturday.
"I recognize that folks in the press love to see Republican on Republican violence. And so you want me to say something bad about Donald Trump or bad about John McCain or bad about anyone else. I'm not gonna do it," Cruz told reporters. "John McCain is a friend of mine, I respect and admire him, he's an American hero. And Donald Trump is a friend of mine."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) also weighed in on Trump, saying that the business mogul had only harmed himself with his comments.
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