BLITZER: The whole Vietnam War became such a powerful issue during the last campaign. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth really went after John Kerry during the campaign. Looking back on it now, how fair were they in skewering him? He himself had served in Vietnam, was injured there.
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, he and I had worked together to try to heal those wounds -- normalization of relations; resolution of the POW-MIA issue. And John Kerry is a friend of mine.
I didn't agree with what John Kerry did after the war was over when he came home. I have that right to disagree, just like we all have a right to disagree with one another.
I thought it was dishonorable and dishonest to question the medals and citations that he had received in combat. Those medals and citations were reviewed up the line to the highest level in the Navy. He had earned them.
And to question those, in my view, was not only improper, but -- look, should we go back and examine everybody's medals and how they got them and under what circumstances?
I'll tell you a dirty little secret. It was much easier at the end of the Vietnam War to get a medal than it was at the beginning. That's true in every conflict. And I'm not saying no one deserved them. They all deserved them. They were brave Americans.
But I just thought it was wrong. And I know that some of my friends, including those I was in prison with, strongly disagreed with that view.