(CNN)Jack McCain has endured a front-row seat to presidential politics. He watched as his father ran for the White House. Now, he's watching again as his father's reputation as a war hero becomes an unlikely subject of debate in the 2016 campaign.
First on CNN: Jack McCain calls Trump's comments 'reprehensible'
Ever since Donald Trump questioned whether Sen. John McCain should be hailed as a war hero because he was captured and held in Vietnam for more than five years, Republicans have rushed to say it disqualifies Trump from running for president.
Not Jack McCain, a young Navy Pilot. He knows better.
"Nothing in politics is disqualifying," he told CNN.
"Even this?" he was asked.
"Even this," McCain said. "I hope his personality has shown through. Whether it was an offhanded comment or not, if that's his true belief, then there needs to be some serious soul-searching as to whether or not he is a viable candidate for president."
McCain, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009, made clear during his interview today that he was speaking only for himself. He said his views are not those of a Naval officer or the academy, where he serves as an instructor, just as a private citizen and son.
"Donald Trump's comments about prisoners of war are reprehensible," McCain said. "He says he doesn't like people who are captured and that applies to all prisoners of war."
At a campaign forum in Iowa on Saturday, Trump joked that he didn't like McCain because he lost to President Barack Obama in 2008. To which the moderator replied, "He's a war hero."
First, Trump said: "He's not a war hero." When the moderator said, "He's a war hero," Trump corrected himself and declared: "He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you."
The exchange sparked one of the biggest firestorms of the campaign, with most Republican candidates and party leaders seizing on a new opportunity to chastise Trump.
Jack McCain, the fourth in his family to graduate from the Naval Academy, said he is less concerned about Trump apologizing to his father, which he has declined to do, than to other prisoners of war and military veterans.
"Donald Trump has to understand he's running to be the commander in chief of the United States military," McCain said. "When you're doing so, if an individual gets rolled up and becomes a prisoner of war, then is he going to abandon them simply because he doesn't like people who are captured? I think that's a pretty inflammatory statement for somebody who is trying to be the commander-in-chief of the United States military."
Trump also questioned Senator McCain's intelligence, saying he graduated last in his class from the Naval Academy.
With a smile, the senator's son said Trump was wrong about that.
"To correct Donald Trump," McCain said, "it was fifth from the bottom, not the bottom."