WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Rick Perry said Sunday he doesn't agree with the government's "over-the-top rhetoric" regarding the U.S. Marines who urinated on dead Taliban members.
"These kids made a mistake. There's not any doubt about it. They shouldn't have done it. It's bad," the Republican presidential hopeful and Texas governor said on CNN's "State of the Union." "But to call it a criminal act, I think, is over the top."
Perry said the act committed by the "18, 19-year-old kids" in Afghanistan was no different than "General Patton doing basically the same thing in the Rhine River."
"And although there's not a picture, Churchill did the same thing on the Siegfried line," Perry said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he disagrees with Perry and thinks "a full and complete investigation is entirely appropriate."
"It's a breakdown in discipline, is what it is. It's very tough, these conditions. Nobody can explain how tough it is, combat, unless they've been in it," the Navy veteran said.
"But the Marine Corps prides itself on its discipline. The Marine Corps prides itself that we don't lower ourselves to the level of the enemy. So it makes me sad more than anything else, because these are the great -- the finest -- I can't tell you how wonderful these people are. And it hurts their reputation and their image."
McCain said showing respect for the body of those who have been killed in war is paramount to the country's image.
"You have to respect the body, and we're trying to win the hearts and minds. And when something like that comes up, it obviously harms that ability," he said.