Earlier today, President Donald Trump, once a candidate for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination (in 2000), tweeted the following:
On National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, we honor the more than 500,000 American warriors captured while protecting our way of life. We pay tribute to these Patriots for their unwavering and unrelenting spirit! https://t.co/KOI7Qd1pZx
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 9, 2020
In response, Twitter users revisited Trump’s 2015 comments about Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War POW:
This caused “Senator McCain” and “John McCain” to trend on Twitter today with users attacking Trump and expressing admiration for McCain, who died in 2018.
However, that admiration is not warranted, according to industrialist Ross Perot, who died last year. Perot, a two time presidential candidate (in 1992 and 1996), founder of the Reform Party, and a POW/MIA activist, had his people look after McCain’s family at the request of McCain’s mother, Roberta (who is still living at the age of 108 years), after McCain’s first wife, Carol, sustained serious injuries in a car accident. At the time the North Vietnamese held John McCain captive at the Hanoi Hilton. During a 2008 interview with Newsweek, Perot said the following about McCain:
[John McCain] is the classic opportunist–he’s always reaching for attention and glory. Other POWs won’t even sit at the same table with him.
After he came home, he walked with a limp, she [Carol McCain] walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona [Cindy McCain] and the rest is history.
McCain was adamant about shutting down anything to do with recovering POWs.
McCain claimed there was no evidence of POW/MIAs left behind in Vietnam. Perot says McCain was involved in a cover-up.
Ironically, McCain, while running for president as a Republican in 2000 against George W. Bush, was rumored to be a potential Reform Party presidential candidate if he did not win the Republican nomination. In 2000, Trump picked McCain as Secretary of Defense in a hypothetical cabinet and cited McCain’s use of similar campaign themes as a reason for Trump’s ultimate withdrawal from the Reform Party race. McCain lost the Republican nomination to Bush but did not seek the Reform Party nod. Instead paleoconservative Pat Buchanan won the nomination.
After Trump’s 2015 comments, the rift with McCain grew wider as McCain withdrew his 2016 endorsement of Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood tape. McCain then cast the deciding vote in the Senate killing the Trump-backed “skinny repeal” of Obamacare in 2017. Trump continued to make comments attacking McCain’s character and was not invited to McCain’s funeral.
Perot, on the other hand, did not make any public comment about Trump, but the two are linked for more than their dislike of McCain. Both Perot and Trump were billionaire businessmen who sought the highest office without previously holding public office, and shared similar, populist views. Upon Perot’s death, publications eulogized him as the Father of Trump, and credited him with paving the way for Trump, and giving birth to the MAGA movement.