Trump shoots at 2008 GOP nominee’s war record

Donald Trump
FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2015 file photo, Donald Trump, host of the television series "The Celebrity Apprentice," mugs for photographers at the NBC 2015 Winter TCA Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. NBC on Monday, June 29, 2015 said that it is ending its business relationship with Trump, now a Republican presidential candidate, because of comments he made about immigrants during the announcement of his campaign. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The latest on the Republican presidential contenders wooing social conservatives at the annual Family Leadership Summit, an event that’s expected to attract thousands of potential Iowa caucus-goers. All times are local.

12:30 p.m.

During a news conference after his appearance, Trump did not apologize but tried to clarify his remarks: “If a person is captured, they’re a hero as far as I’m concerned. I don’t like the job John McCain is doing in the Senate because he is not taking care of our veterans.”

Trump said he avoided service in the Vietnam War through student deferments and a medical deferment, then said he didn’t serve because “I was not a big fan of the Vietnam war.” He added he wasn’t a protester.

Other 2016 hopefuls were quick to attack Trump’s comments. In a statement, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the remarks make Trump “unfit to be commander-in-chief.” On Twitter, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said: “After Donald Trump spends six years in a POW camp, he can weigh in on John McCain’s service.” Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wrote on Twitter: “Enough with the slanderous attacks. (at)SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans – particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.”

noon

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is again criticizing a well-respected member of his own party.

Speaking at a conference of religious conservatives on Saturday, Trump was pressed on his recent description of Arizona Sen. John McCain as “a dummy.”

The moderator, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, described McCain as “a war hero.” McCain spent more than five years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down during combat in Vietnam.

Trump said McCain “is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Trump is among 10 GOP presidential candidates on the program for the Family Leader Summit in Ames, Iowa.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Ark., Friday, July 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at the Republican Party of Arkansas Reagan Rockefeller dinner in Hot Springs, Ark., Friday, July 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

11:30 p.m.

Donald Trump is currently running for president as a Republican. But while courting evangelical voters at the Family Values Summit in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday, he again refused to rule out a third-party run if he doesn’t win the nomination.

Some Republican officials don’t take the businessman and reality TV star’s candidacy seriously. Others fear that heading a third-party, Trump could siphon votes away from the eventual Republican nominee and ultimately cost the GOP the presidency.

And when pressed, Trump again refused to apologize for his recent description of Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.” Instead, he says, he’s “so proud of the fact that I got a dialogue started on illegal immigration.”

11:15 p.m.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is aggressively refuting the notion that he lacks experience compared with others in the Republican presidential field.

The 44-year-old freshman senator argues that he best understands the challenges Americans face today. He says he understands having to live paycheck to paycheck and notes that until recently he had student loans payments.

Rubio admits some of the candidates have more experience “on the issues we faced 18 years ago, but no one running has more experience on the issues we face right now, today, in the 21st century.”

Rubio was the first presidential candidate to address the annual Family Leadership Summit. Nine more Republican prospects are scheduled to take the stage in Ames, Iowa.

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