McCain to Kerry: Apologize to Troops

ByABC News via logo

Nov. 1, 2006 — -- Sen. John McCain appeared on "Good Morning America" today and refused to back down from his call for Sen. John Kerry to apologize for remarks he made about the Iraq war.

Kerry, campaigning for Democrats in California on Monday, told a group of students: "You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Kerry says that he misspoke, and that his comment was a botched joke aimed at President Bush, not at soldiers.

McCain told "GMA" today that it didn't seem like a joke.

"I've read and watched the statement over and over again," McCain said to anchor Diane Sawyer. "I'm not sure how you can construe it that way."

On Tuesday, Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, insisted in a statement that he had not belittled the intelligence of soldiers serving in Iraq, but rather that of "the president who got us stuck there."

Kerry added that McCain should instead ask for an apology from Donald Rumsfeld for the job he was doing in Iraq.

But McCain continues to demand an apology from Kerry.

"I think that Sen. Kerry is entitled to his views as to what I should do," McCain told Sawyer. "I found that if it is a just a botched joke then we apologize and move on."

Despite the controversy, McCain says his friendship with Kerry will remain intact.

"I consider John Kerry a friend," McCain said. "But my first obligation is to the men and women serving in harm's way."

"Those people deserve better comments than that. … And an apology is the best way to bring closure to this. … I'm a great believer in redemption," he said.

"As it stands, he owes an apology to the troops in Iraq. … They're there because they love their country," not because they're "academically deficient," he said.