Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told viewers Monday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that “John McCain is a war hero, period.”

His words came amid a firestorm of reaction to Donald Trump’s recent comments regarding Arizona Senator John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and whether or not he is a war hero. 

At the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa on Saturday, Trump said of McCain, "He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured."

Trump later refused to apologize for his remarks.

“John McCain and I have disagreed on a lot of things over the years but knowing what that man went through, [if] that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is,” Santorum said.

But he also suggested that opponents negatively pouncing on each other would result in a weaker presidential candidate for the party in the long run.

“I am not going to engage in personal attacks, but that is what’s going on here, is that unless you attack him personally, you’re not tough enough. You’re backing off. You’re not going after him,” he noted, adding, “I was in the race four years ago and I saw what kind of food fight that ends up in.”

“It ends up with a weaker candidate and I am not going to play that media’s game.”