If presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s controversial comments about Senator John McCain’s record as a POW sound familiar, that’s because you might have heard something like them before.
“He is a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said of McCain on Saturday during a forum for GOP presidential candidates, adding “I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”
Trump’s comments – made after McCain called some Trump supporters “crazies” – provoked strong criticism from pundits and politicians, but it has also shed some light on remarks made 15 years ago by the liberal Democrat Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.
Before he was a lawmaker, Franken was a left-wing comedian and commentator who was known for his controversial comments. In the lead up to the 2000 election, Franken made a similar comment about McCain, according to CNN.
“I have tremendous respect for McCain but I don’t buy the war hero thing. Anybody can be captured. I thought the idea was to capture them. As far as I’m concerned he sat out the war,” Franken told Salon.com in 2000.
As controversy swirls over Trump’s comments about POWs, new light is being shed on Franken’s past remarks, which his office said was intended as “irony.” In 2004 Franken repeated his remarks when John McCain was a guest on his political talk show.
“I mean, I consider you a hero, tremendous political courage, not, you know, the thing about five years, or five and a half years at the Hanoi Hilton; as far as I’m concerned you just sat out the war. I don’t consider that real heroism. Anybody can get captured, right?” Franken said to McCain, according to CNN.
In fact, the comment seemed to be a reoccurring theme for Franken, who wrote in his book “Lies: And the Lying Liars who Tell Them” that the “joke” was a big success when he told it at a 1999 White House Photographers Dinner.
Maybe if Trump claims he was joking, and decides to run as a liberal Democrat instead of a Republican, the controversy around his comments will go away for him just like it did for Franken.