(CNSNews.com) - For a candidate knocked by many Democrats and some Republicans as clownish and unserious, Donald Trump once again is generating top headlines on liberal media outlets, blowing out other national concerns.
The latest controversy centers on Trump's comments about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). The hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" talked about little else for the first hour on Monday.
At a gathering in Iowa on Saturday, Trump complained about McCain calling Trump's admirers "crazies."
"So he insulted me, and he insulted everybody in that room," Trump said. "And I said -- somebody should run against John MCcain -- who has been a, you know, in my opinion, not so hot. And I supported him. I supported him for president. I raised a million dollars for him. That's a lot of money. I supported him.
"He lost, you understand. But, you know, he lost. So I never liked him as much after that, because I don't like losers. So I didn't like him as much after that."
"He is a war hero," Trump conceded when pressed. "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured, okay, I hate to tell you. He's a war hero because he was captured, okay? And I believe, perhaps he's a war hero. But right now, he's said some very bad things about a lot of people."
"Do you owe John McCain an apology?" Martha Raddatz, guest host of ABC's "This Week," asked Trump on Sunday.
"No, not at all," Trump responded. He noted that he got a standing ovation from the crowd he was addressing: "It was wonderful to see. Nobody was insulted," he said.
"What happened is, later on, the Republican candidates, some of whom are registering 1 percent and zero, and they're very upset that I'm leading the polls by actually a nice margin, they're extremely upset and...they started attacking me --"
An indignant Raddatz read a short biography of McCain, noting that he was shot down in 1967 on his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam. She recounted McCain's grievous injuries and his five-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war.
"You do not think that is a war hero, captured or not?" Raddatz asked Trump.
"I didn't say anything differently," Trump said. "I'm very disappointed in John McCain because the vets are horribly treated in this country. I'm fight for the vets. I've done a lot for the vets.
"And the vets -- I've been going around to the campaign trail. They're treated like third-class citizens. He's done nothing to help the vets. And I will tell you, they are living in hell."
Trump tried to discuss the "scandal" surrounding the mismanagement of the Veterans Administration, but Raddatz wouldn't have it:
"Mr. Trump, I have covered the veterans issues for many, many years. Indeed, there are big troubles in the Veterans Administration... Let me talk about your language about him (McCain) being captured. You say you prefer those who aren't captured. What could John McCain have done not to be captured?" she asked him.
"Well, I do say this. People that fought hard and weren't captured and went through a lot, they get no credit," Trump said. "Nobody even talks about them. They're like forgotten. And I think that's a shame, if you want to know the truth. People that were not captured that went in and fought, nobody talks about them. Those are heroes also."
Trump noted that John McCain gets credit for being a war hero: "He was elected a senator, et cetera, et cetera, and we'll give him all the credit. ... But the people that weren't captured are also heroes, Martha."
Raddatz then turned the conversation to the fact that Trump himself never served in the military, getting student and medical deferments.
"I was fortunate, in a sense, because I was not a believer in the Vietnam War," Trump said. "That was another war that was a disaster for this country. Lives and money and it's disgraceful what happened with the Vietnam War. I was not a fan of the Vietnam War."
Raddatz asked Trump about his "pattern" of name-calling when he's criticized: "Is that something you would continue doing if you were president?"
"Oh, I don't think -- look, when people attack me, I let them have it back. You say physical appearance. You know, it's my hair but people are constantly attacking my hair. I don't see you coming to my defense. I'm -- my hair is just fine, but I don't see you coming to my defense. But if I say something about somebody else.
"Yesterday, I mentioned somebody was saying, McCain's a smart man. I said, really? He graduated last in his class at Annapolis, OK. So people laughed when I said it, but a lot of people don't know that.
"I'm very disappointed. I understand John McCain. I've backed John McCain; raised, I think, $1 million for John McCain when he let us down. He ran for president and lost to Obama, let us down. I wasn't thrilled with that.
"But I will say what I want to say, and maybe that's why I'm leading in the polls because people are tired of hearing politicians and pollsters telling the politicians exactly what to say."