Donald Trump

What was the Accusation?

In July of 2015, Republican primary candidate Donald Trump, while attending the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, chose to attack fellow Republican John McCain by stating: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”  Some of the people at the summit booed Trump and he was criticized even within his own party for not showing the proper respect to a man who had spent five and half years in one of Vietnam’s most notorious prisons, being repeatedly tortured and spending roughly two years in solitary confinement.  Trump would later deny that he claimed McCain wasn’t a war hero by saying: “If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero.” He would also claim in an interview with Bill O’Reilly that he simply misspoke and that there was a “misunderstanding” that he fixed by revising his statement immediately after the poorly received one.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Denial, Accident




“I used to like him a lot. I supported him. I raised a lot of money for his campaign against President Obama, and certainly, if there was a misunderstanding, I would totally take that back. But hopefully, I said it correctly and certainly, shortly thereafter, I said it correctly.”


Martin, J., & Rappeport, A. (2015, July 18).  Donald Trump says John McCain Is no war hero, setting off another storm. New York Times. Retrieved from:

Schreckinger, B. (2015, July 18). Trump attacks McCain: ‘I like people who weren’t captured’. Politico. Retrieved from:

Scott, E., Preston, M., & Bradner, E. (2015, July 20). Defiant Trump refuses to apologize to McCain. CNN. Retrieved from: