Republican Senator John McCain took another pointed, if indirect swipe, at President Donald Trump, in comments criticizing people who avoided the Vietnam War draft.
"One aspect of the [Vietnam] conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur," McCain said in an interview with C-SPAN that aired Sunday. "That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve."
Though McCain — a Vietnam veteran who was captured and held for more than five years as a prisoner of war — didn't mention the president by name, the "bone spurs" remark references the exact diagnosis that got Trump out of the draft in 1968.
Trump received five deferments during the Vietnam War, including four for attending college and a fifth when he graduated for "bone spurs in heels." The diagnosis resulted in a medical deferment, exempting him from service. The US drafted 300,000 men into the military that year to fight in Vietnam.
"I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels," Trump told the New York Times in 2016, adding that the condition eventually "healed up."
The Vietnam War has been a point of contention between McCain and Trump since the 2016 campaign, when Trump derided McCain's military service, and quipped, "I like people who weren’t captured."
The Arizona senator has ramped up criticism of Trump in recent weeks, including during a speech at the National Constitution Center last week, in which he warned the US against embracing "half-baked, spurious nationalism."
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at email@example.com.
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