“Why Only Now?”: Media Ask Why Trump Drew GOP Candidates' Ire For McCain Remarks, But Not Anti-Immigrant Rants

Amid widespread condemnation of Donald Trump from his fellow Republican presidential candidates following his attack on Sen. John McCain's military service, media are highlighting Republicans' collective failure to denounce Trump's past bigotry and xenophobia.

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Says John McCain Is “Not A War Hero”

Donald Trump: John McCain “Not A War Hero.” Speaking at a July 18 Republican presidential forum in Ames, Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized the military service of Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, saying, “He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured.” [The New York Times7/18/15]

GOP Opponents Condemn Trump's “Slanderous Attacks” On McCain, POWs

Wash. Post: 2016 GOP Contenders Unleash “Swift And Sharp” Trump Denunciations. Trump's anti-McCain remarks at the Family Leadership Summit, “opened the floodgates, drawing swift and sharp criticisms from other Republicans,” reported The Washington Post. Within hours, nearly every major GOP candidate publicly condemned Trump's comments:

Former Texas governor Rick Perry, himself a subject of recent attacks from Trump, said Trump was “unfit” to serve as president and should “immediately withdraw” from the race.


Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, also chimed in with a Twitter post calling or an end to such “slanderous attacks”


“He needs to apologize to Senator McCain and all the other men and women who have worn the uniform,” [Scott] Walker told reporters following a campaign stop in Sioux City. “It's just a disgrace.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) posted on Twitter: “America's POWs deserve much better than to have their service questioned by the offensive rantings of Donald Trump” [The Washington Post, 7/18/15]

Media Call Out GOP's Selective Outrage Over Trump Comments

AP's Julie Pace: When Trump Smeared Immigrants, “You Saw More Of A Mixed Reaction” From Republicans. On Fox News Sunday, Associated Press White House correspondent Julie Pace called Trump's attack “a litmus test” for 2016 Republicans. She noted that “everyone comes out and quickly pushes back” to support McCain, but the field showed “more of a mixed reaction” when Trump trashed Mexicans and immigrants:

PACE: I think that the White House and Democrats as a whole, right now, are happy to see Trump stay in this race as long as he can, because he not only forces other people in the party to respond to him every time he makes one of these comments, but you start to see this be a litmus test. Everyone comes out and quickly pushes back when he makes a comment about John McCain and his military service, but when he made comments about Mexicans and immigrants, you saw more of a mixed reaction. And so they think that this is harmful to whoever the eventual nominee is, and certainly I think Republicans feel that the quicker he gets out of the race, the better it is for the party. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday7/19/15]

CNN's Brian Stelter Asks Of GOP Turning On Trump: “Why Only Now?” On CNN's Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter asked Republican strategist Rick Wilson why GOP candidates waited until Trump attacked McCain to draw the line against him:

WILSON: It was one of the most vile moments I've seen in American politics in a long time. And our politics have gotten pretty base in a lot of ways, but Trump really lowered the bar yesterday and I think he disqualified himself with an awful lot of the party.

STELTER: But why only now? I mean I've seen a lot of comments online, here is one I'll read. It says, 'Trump has been calling Mexicans rapists for weeks, but the thing that will finally sink in with journalists is him being mean to John McCain.' You think that's a fair critique, that Trump has said all sorts of things, and it's only now for some reason that this is the line that's been drawn? [CNN, Reliable Sources7/19/15]

NBC's Andrea Mitchell: GOP Collectively Refused To Stand Up To Trump On Birtherism And Immigration Rhetoric. On NBC's Meet the Press, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell noted that Republicans didn't stand up together against Trump when he pursued birther conspiracy theories against Obama:

MITCHELL: I think the Republicans -- it's interesting to note that, as Democrats are saying, they did not stand up against him when he talked so abusively about President Obama, with the birthers -- 

CHUCK TODD (host): As collectively, there were plenty, right -- 

MITCHELL: Collectively. And the Republican candidates this year -- did not collectively, there were some, Jeb Bush, you know, Marco Rubio obviously -- 

TODD: Rick Perry, by the way. 

MITCHELL: And Rick Perry. But all of them collectively did not stand up when he's talked about Mexico and immigrants with such racial rhetoric. It was only when they -- when he attacked John McCain. [NBC, Meet the Press7/19/15]

CBS' Face The Nation Calls Out Republicans For Delay In Criticizing Trump For Previous Rhetoric. On CBS' Face the Nation, host John Dickerson noted that “Republicans were pretty slow to criticize Trump when he talked about Mexicans. Here they were doing it in the same tweet cycle, if that's even a phrase.” Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus talked about the “lag” Republicans have shown in responding to other problematic comments from Trump:

MARCUS: It also is another one of these hurdles that's in front of the more, let's call them credible candidates, and how they respond to Trump. Not just this one, which was really a no-brainer in how to respond to his outrageous comments about John McCain. But in terms of the lag that they have had in responding to his previous comments about Mexican rapists, about where President Obama was born. Even yesterday, we didn't pay attention to it because of what he said about McCain was so outrageous, he was asked by Frank Luntz whether he thought the president loved America and he said he didn't know. Come on. [CBS, Face the Nation7/19/15]

ABC's LZ Granderson: “I'm Amazed That We Think This Is The Moment That He's Gone Too Far.” On This Week, ABC News contributor LZ Granderson voiced shock that Trump, “slandered an entire race of people,” but didn't face the firestorm that followed his McCain comments:

GRANDERSON: I'm amazed that we think this is the moment that he's gone too far. I mean, he went on television and literally slandered an entire race of people. Why wasn't that the shark that got jumped? Why did it take the attack of John McCain to get people to get people so upset, that Republicans start tweeting and denouncing, when he went there and said, 'Well I like some of the Mexicans, but the rest of them are a bunch of rapists and criminals.' [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos7/19/15]