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John McCain Clarifies Draft Dodger Comments

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Arizona Sen. John McCain has commented on those who avoided the Vietnam draft, causing some to speculate that he was indirectly criticizing President Donald Trump.

The Republican senator was speaking to C-SPAN in an interview that aired on Oct. 22, when he mentioned those who had doctors diagnose them with ailments to get them out of being drafted, directly mentioning the condition that got Trump out of the draft, according to BuzzFeed.

"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," said McCain. "That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve."

McCain did not mention Trump's name when speaking about those who avoided the draft, but the "bone spur" condition that the senator mentioned was the diagnosis that kept the president out of the draft in 1968. Trump had five deferments during the Vietnam War, four of which were for college, and the last was a medical deferment for "bone spurs in heels" after he had graduated.

"I had a doctor that gave me a letter -- a very strong letter on the heels," said Trump in 2016 of his fifth deferment, saying that the bone spurs had eventually "healed up."

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McCain later clarified his comments, saying on Oct. 23 that Trump was not a "draft dodger."

"I don't consider him so much a draft dodger as I feel the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country," said McCain on "The View," according to Politico.

A spokeswoman for McCain, Julie Tarallo, also said that the senator had not been speaking specifically about Trump.

"Senator McCain was referring to one of the great injustices of the Vietnam conflict that led to a majority of poor, undereducated and minority draftees," said Tarallo. "Senator McCain has long criticized the selective service program during the Vietnam War, which left the fighting to the less privileged."

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"I think that when we ask the lowest-income portion of our public to do our fighting and dying for us, that's disgraceful," said McCain, expanding on his comments. "If we were all asked to serve, wonderful. But if some of us are allowed not to because of our income or our position or our influence, then that is a disgrace."

The comments are not the first time Trump and McCain have appeared to be at odds in regards to Vietnam. McCain, a former Navy pilot, was a prisoner of war for well over five years, and was reportedly tortured.

Trump has previously said that McCain was "not a war hero." He also said, "I like people who weren't captured," referencing McCain's status as a former POW.

On "The View," McCain called for more respect in political discourse.

"We've got to lift the national dialogue," said the senator. "Let's stop insulting each other. Let's start respecting each others' views. I think the point is that we need to have a kinder, more respectful but vigorous debate and discussion, but based on what we want the country to do, not whether somebody's a jerk or not."

Sources: BuzzFeed, Politico / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: Rona Proudfoot/Flickr, Marc Nozell/Flickr

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