President Donald Trump responded Tuesday to Republican Sen. John McCain’s pointed Monday night speech, suggesting that the senator should “be careful” because Trump will “fight back.”
“I hear everything,” Trump told WMAL radio when asked if he heard what McCain said in his speech Monday. “People have to be careful because at some point I fight back.”
In his Philadelphia speech, where McCain was to accept the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal in recognition of his service to the US, McCain blasted “half-baked, spurious nationalism.”
“To refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last, best hope of Earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” McCain said.
He added that “we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil,” referencing a Nazi slogan that white nationalists chanted during a Charlottesville, Virginia, rally in August.
“We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t,” McCain continued.
McCain responded to Trump’s comments on Tuesday, denying that he was attacking the president specifically but also saying that he’s “faced some pretty tough adversaries in the past.”
“I’m not interested in confronting the president,” he said. “I’m interested in working with the president.”
McCain said that he was referring to “America Firsters” in his Monday speech. “America First” is a slogan Trump has often used to describe his foreign policy agenda.
McCain and Trump have often been at odds during Trump’s presidency. The senator was the decisive vote that crushed the Republican healthcare effort this summer, and he has often been publicly critical of Trump. In turn, Trump has chastised McCain.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who lost to McCain in the 2008 Republican presidential primary, took to Twitter to call the Arizona Republican’s speech “Lincolnesque.”
“Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of @SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque,” he tweeted.
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