Sen. John McCain appeared to admonish President Trump for using his wealth and privilege to dodge the Vietnam War draft, unlike hundreds of thousands of less affluent citizens forced to fight.
“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America,” the Arizona Republican told C-SPAN’s “American History TV” in an interview that aired Sunday.
“The highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur,” McCain added, apparently referencing Trump’s medical deferment.
The former fighter pilot does not mention Trump by name during the Oct. 18 recording, in which he reflects on being shot down and taken prisoner by the Vietnamese in 1967.
The six-term lawmaker referenced bone spurs, calcium deposits that a doctor found on both of Trump’s heels in the 1960s, prompting the New York Military Academy cadet to be disqualified from the draft. The future commander-in-chief received four more deferments during the war to finish his education.
“This is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve,” the Vietnam war hero said.
McCain went on to serve and was imprisoned for five years, two of which were spent in solitary confinement after being nursed back to good health by a pair of captured American soldiers.
The senator has since been hailed a hero in the decades since his wartime ordeal, except to Trump, who mocked McCain’s military record during an Iowa campaign rally in May 2016.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said, sparking a war of words between the GOP lawmaker. Two days before the C-Span interview, McCain slighted the Trump administration for championing “half-baked, spurious nationalism.”
When asked about Trump’s brazen insult, McCain said he took the remark in stride.
“I think you just ignore it. I really do. I watch what the President does, not what he says,” McCain said.