Conservative pundits, with some notable exceptions, voiced their disapproval Monday over Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's comments about Arizona Republican Senator John McCain.
"It's indefensible," host Andrea Tanatros said Monday on Fox News's Out Numbered. "John McCain, whether you agree with him or not, is a war hero."
On Saturday, at an evangelical event in Iowa, Trump said McCain is not a war hero because he was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War. That comment fueled bipartisan outrage, with several other 2016 candidates calling for Trump to apologize.
Fox News commentator Brit Hume predicted Monday that this past weekend will ultimately haunt Trump.
"I think he's damaged," Hume said "He's got enough money that he can stick around for a while and he's got a following to turn out a crowd here and there but I think he's hurt."
Over on the conservative blogs, opinion ranged from disavowing Trump to saying the comments will cause other people to disavow him.
"While The Donald is certainly an egocentric huckster, he has done the country a big favor by helping to demonstrate just how critical these issues are. For the status quo, the quicker Trump is discredited, the faster they can return to their parade of status quo candidates and discard Trump’s message on real issues. This would be bad for the country," wrote Pat McKim on the conservative news site Breitbart.com. "Trump’s ugly comments regarding [McCain] now allow the status quo another opportunity to discredit him as a candidate."
At Hot Air, Jazz Shaw wrote:
I know that many members of his own party have issues with John McCain’s politics. I’ve had more than a few myself. And there were plenty of us who weren’t exactly wild about his selection as the nominee against Barack Obama in 2008. (Yes, yes… that’s putting it mildly, I’m sure.) But John McCain served his country when duty called and did so to the limit, barely short of giving the last full measure of devotion. After being shot down over enemy territory he endured things which most of us can thankfully not even imagine, to say nothing of surviving ourselves. The man is a war hero above and beyond even the most revered definition of the term.
As conservative media outlets added their voices to the chorus of outrage, right-leaning radio host Rush Limbaugh defended Trump, pointing out that in the same appearance Trump said four times that McCain is a war hero. Limbaugh also pointed out that no matter how outraged establishment politicians and mainstream media may be, those viewpoints may not be reflective of the views of typical Americans.
"Conventional wisdom is that Trump is finished with voters, " Limbaugh said. "I don't think it's the case, but it wont take long to find out.
Limbaugh said that his own controversies have never resulted in losing his audience. He alluded to a 2003 incident, when he said in an ESPN appearance that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated, and said the media invested a lot of hope in him out of the desire to see a black quarterback succeed.
"I myself have stepped in it a few times," Limbaugh said. "Each time I did, the drive-bys thought they had me, but they didn't. They didn't even come close."
—Emily Bowman, Kendall Breitman and Andrew Feather contributed to this report.