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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks after he received the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that "I fight back" after McCain questioned "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in America's foreign policy.

McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent 5½ years in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp and is battling brain cancer, offered a simple response to Trump: "I have faced tougher adversaries."

Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL-AM in Washington, "I'm being very, very nice but at some point I fight back, and it won't be pretty." He bemoaned McCain's decisive vote this past summer in opposition to a GOP bill to dismantle former President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a move that led to the failure of GOP efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

In Philadelphia on Monday night, the six-term senator received an award for a lifetime of service and sacrifice to the country. In addition to recalling his more than two decades of military service and his imprisonment during the war, McCain took a moment to go a step further than the night's other speakers, who lamented what many described as a fractured political climate.

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"To abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems," he said, "is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."

He continued: "We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil."

Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the Liberty Medal. Though members of opposing parties, the two men worked together during their time in the Senate. Obama, who defeated McCain in his bid for the presidency in 2008, congratulated the senator on the award in a tweet Monday night.

"I'm grateful to SenJohnMcCain for his lifetime of service to our country. Congratulations, John, on receiving this year's Liberty Medal," Obama wrote, using McCain's Twitter user name.

Another political foe, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said on Twitter: "Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque."

The back-and-forth between the president and McCain was the latest skirmish between the two Republican heavyweights and another example of Trump tangling with GOP senators who could undermine his agenda in Congress.

Trump in recent weeks has feuded with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, although the president joined with the Kentucky senator at the White House on Monday to publicly declare they were on the same page.

In the radio interview, Trump aired his frustration with fellow Republicans who have eluded him in his attempt to overhaul the 2010 health care law.

"We need some votes from some of the Republicans. For some reason, they weren't there on health care. They should have been," Trump told WMAL's Chris Plante. "We thought we had it. John McCain voted no, which was a shocker."

As a presidential candidate, Trump said in 2015 that McCain was "not a war hero" because he was captured in Vietnam, adding, "I like people who weren't captured." McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said Trump owed other veterans an apology.

During Trump's presidency, McCain has questioned the president's immigration policies and warned him against cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The senator also criticized Trump in August for saying that both white nationalists and counterprotesters were responsible for violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va.

McCain insisted in a tweet that "there's no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry" and that the president should say so.

The senator underwent surgery in mid-July to remove a 2-inch blood clot in his brain after being diagnosed with an aggressive tumor called a glioblastoma. It's the same type of tumor that killed Sen. Edward Kennedy at age 77 in 2009 and Biden's son, Beau Biden, at 46 in 2015.

Information for this article was contributed by Erica Werner of The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump listens to questions during news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.

A Section on 10/18/2017

Print Headline: McCain takes digs; Trump warns him

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  • JakeTidmore
    October 18, 2017 at 4:50 a.m.

    "Guy who got 5 deferments to avoid a war he supported warns POW McCain that at some point he might start fighting."- John Fugelsang
    Love McCain's response to That Idiot: Multi-deferment Trump tells Senator McCain, tortured while a "guest" at the Hanoi Hilton, currently enduring a bleak cancer prognosis: "Be careful because at some point I fight back".
    The Senator, master of understatement: "I've faced far greater challenges than this."
    "McCain Attacks "Spurious Nationalism," Forcing Trump to Google Both Words"--Andy Borowitz
    With the tyrannical, temperamental regime of Herr Trump, we now have something to compete with meritocracy - moronacracy (rule of idiots).

  • TimberTopper
    October 18, 2017 at 4:59 a.m.

    Trump doesn't fight back! He's always had a hired bodyguard to do it for him. I'd say the guy with the big mouth will loose to the guy with back bone and guts.

  • 23cal
    October 18, 2017 at 6:56 a.m.

    Trump is a punk.

  • WGT
    October 18, 2017 at 7:08 a.m.

    Screw Trump. He is unsconcionable. John McCain will always be the better man. We Americans are witnessing the unraveling of a monster. Trump is an utter failure at being a contributing member to society; and has no clue, none. ( Maybe Trump should experience the situations McCain endured whilst prisoner in Viet Nam. Imagine, a broken arm, neglected to heal on its own.) John McCain is more American than Trump could be, even if Trump had a complete reversal of thought. Vote.
    Vote, vote, vote.

    October 18, 2017 at 9:35 a.m.

    A bantem rooster always has his way with a cut worm. Best you scrunch your way back to your hole, vermin.

  • 3WorldState1
    October 18, 2017 at 10:05 a.m.

    Yeah, McCain is scared of a fat, elitist moron.
    What President starts a fight with a war hero? But someone kneeling during the NA for equal rights is too far? I just can't understand the Rush crowd. Are they that brainwashed?

  • WhododueDiligence
    October 18, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    "Trump said in a radio interview with WMAL-AM in Washington, 'I'm being very, very nice...'"
    Very, very nice? That just goes to show we shouldn't believe everything we hear on political talk radio. Donald Trump, recipient of 5 deferments, has repeatedly bashed John McCain. He even belittled McCain for being captured, revealing that 5-deferment Donald is blissfully unaware that pilots were almost certain to be captured if they survived being shot out of the air over heavily populated areas of North Vietnam. And 5-deferment Donald wants us to believe he's being very, very nice. Regardless of how many times he bashes military heroes and other Americans, Donald has made it abundantly clear that Donald always thinks being Donald is being very, very nice. How defermented can he get?
    Does he think being awarded 5 deferments makes him highly decorated?