Trump: Never was, never will be fan of Sen. John McCain

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 208 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks at a rally outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. President Donald Trump is not backing down from his longstanding criticism of the late Sen. John McCain. Trump declared Tuesday at the White House: “I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.” Trump drew criticism over the weekend for tweeting insults at McCain, a Vietnam war hero, Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate who died last year of brain cancer. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) –The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Carrying a bitter personal feud beyond the grave, President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on the late Sen. John McCain on Tuesday, declaring he will “never” be a fan of the Vietnam war hero and longtime Republican lawmaker who died last year of brain cancer.

“I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

The fresh vitriol followed Trump’s weekend tweets insulting the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, with whom he long had a fractious relationship. He repeated some of those attacks, complaining about McCain’s vote against repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

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“He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years and then it got to a vote and he said thumbs down,” Trump said, adding — without citing evidence — that the repeal would have “saved a trillion dollars.”

Over the weekend, Trump attacked McCain on Twitter. Among his barbs was that the longtime Arizona senator had been “last in his class” at the U.S. Naval Academy. But while McCain famously racked up demerits and earned poor grades, he ultimately graduated fifth from the bottom of his 1958 class.

Those attacks drew retaliatory fire from McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain.

“He spends his weekend obsessing over great men because he knows it and I know it and all of you know it — he will never be a great man,” said Meghan McCain, on ABC’s “The View,” which she co-hosts.

Trump targeted McCain during his presidential campaign, saying in 2015 that the former prisoner-of-war was not a hero, “because he was captured.” Trump received a series of deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam, including one attained with a physician’s letter stating that he suffered from bone spurs in his feet.