Clegg: Trump’s big mistake (again)

BY CHRIS CLEGG | JULY 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Donald Trump was at it again on July 18, when he decided to take a shot at Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., Vietnam War record while speaking at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames. Referring to McCain’s involvement in the war, Trump bluntly stated, “He’s not a war hero.  He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Naturally, these statements set off a firestorm in the media as well as among Trump’s competitors, with challengers such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “unequivocally” denouncing him and Hillary Clinton labeling his unusual personal attack on McCain as “shameful.” 

Making headlines through blatantly harsh language is no new feat for Trump, as was made clear just over a month ago with a speech labeling all people south of the boarder as rapists and drug dealers. Unlike Trump’s comments on immigration, though, his comments on prisoners of war were somewhat instigated by the very man that he attacked.  

On a July 16 interview with The New Yorker, McCain is quoted accusing Trump of firing up the “crazies” with his hateful anti-immigration sentiment — an ideology that McCain simply described as “very bad.” Nonetheless, regardless of the petty back and forth between the two Republicans, Trump’s comments, first on immigration and most recently on, well, American soldiers in general, have completely alienated any real shot he may have once had at the presidency.   

When Trump essentially called out the entire nation of Mexico as criminals, he also, essentially, eliminated a significant chunk of votes that would be beneficial for any presidential candidate to retain.  

As of 2013, there was just shy of 54 million Latinos in the United States, 64 percent of whom, according to the Pew Research Center, were Mexican. While it is hard to tell how many of that 64 percent (about 34.5 million people) voted, statistics from Pew show that Latino voter turnout has steadily increased since 2004, and these votes have become increasingly important in deciding presidential races.  

Not only do Trump’s comments on immigration make him look bigoted and unable to connect with roughly 10 percent of the nation’s population. They also act as a political dagger when it comes to getting votes. If Trump’s immigration comments acted as the dagger cutting off his line to tap important votes, then his comments about McCain, and prisoners of war in general, should be the great sword that severes his political head entirely.

Not only is it crazy to deny McCain’s status as a war hero (he was captured and tortured in Vietnam), but it is a slap in the face to all current and ex-military personnel in this country to make the assumption that our only heroes of war are the service members who are unfortunate enough to be captured by our enemies.  

Regardless of whether a military person becomes a prisoner of war, that they decide to serve their country so people such as Trump can run for office is what makes them heroes. Overseas or domestically, captured or not, all United States servicemen and -women sacrifice their time and effort to make America a safe place to live, and it saddens me that Trump, a candidate for the most powerful position in the free world, can so easily undermine the sacrifices that people such as McCain have made for him.

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