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Arnold Defends McCain, Takes Personal Jab at Trump

The late senator's youngest daughter also made a rare public pushback
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2019 1:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump has unleashed a series of new attacks on the late John McCain in recent days, seven months after the senator's death, and Sen. Joni Ernst on Thursday became the latest Republican to criticize him for it. "He does need to stop that," said Ernst when asked about the controversy, reports the Des Moines Register. "John McCain is a war hero, he's a friend of mine," she said. "I can't stop the president. What I can do is say, 'Mr. President, I don't appreciate it.' You know, they had their differences, I get it, but he's my friend." Details and developments:

  • The history: Trump's latest attacks began over the weekend, apparently after he saw a report on McCain's role in getting the infamous Steele dossier into the hands of the FBI. But his disdain of McCain goes way back, and USA Today has the details. As early as 2000, Trump wondered why McCain was considered a war hero given that he was captured. Trump would echo the remarks during the 2016 campaign. The two traded criticisms throughout the campaign, with McCain saying that Trump had "fired up the crazies."
  • Another daughter: Meghan McCain has been prominent in pushing back against Trump, but youngest daughter Bridget McCain also took to Twitter on Thursday in a rare public move, notes the Washington Post. “Everyone doesn’t have to agree with my dad or like him, but I do ask you to be decent and respectful,” she wrote. “If you can’t do those two things, be mindful. We only said goodbye to him almost 7 months ago." It was one of her several tweets on the matter.

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  • Arnold is in: Arnold Schwarzenegger was friends with McCain, and the former governor unloads on Trump to the Atlantic. "An attack on (McCain) is absolutely unacceptable if he’s alive or dead—but even twice as unacceptable since he passed away a few months ago," he says, calling it "a shame that the president lets himself down to that kind of level." He also got in a shot at Trump's physique: “I know he must be working out every day, because he’s so unbelievably in shape."
  • A rebuttal: The McCain Institute issued a fact sheet about the late senator that doesn't mention Trump by name but is clearly intended as a "point-by-point rebuttal" to the president's attacks, per Politico. Among other things, it notes that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his Navy class and not, as Trump claimed, "last in his class."
  • Why now? If Trump has a political strategy in mind with the McCain attacks ("I never liked him much"), aides aren't sure what it is, reports Politico. The story notes that Trump is simultaneously waging a public feud with George Conway, husband of Kellyanne Conway. The Washington Post offers this: "Some close to the president have attributed his frustrations to worrying over the looming report on Russian election interference from the special counsel’s office ... while others said he simply has fewer advisers to restrain him from airing his grievances."
  • Trevor Noah: The Daily Show host ridiculed Trump's latest comments, notes the New York Times. “I really can’t believe Trump is beefing with a dead man—and losing," he said. "Like, I mean, who’s he going to go after next?" Then, impersonating Trump: "‘Albert Einstein, big dummy. How can E equal MC? They’re different letters! It doesn’t work, folks.'"
(Cindy McCain shared the hate that followed Trump's attacks.)

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