McCain defends record on vets from Trump

McCain defends record on vets from Trump

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCohen’s pleas concocted by prosecutors to snare Trump Overnight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence Dem strategist says Trump should not have attended George H.W. Bush's funeral MORE defended himself on Wednesday against claims from 2016 presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill MORE that the Arizona Republican has failed his fellow American veterans. 

“John McCain and the establishment in Washington have treated the vets so badly,” Trump said Tuesday evening on Fox News’s “Hannity." 

"He's been, you know, one of the people in charge, and he's done a very poor job," he added.

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Last month, Trump said McCain was "not a war hero" because he was captured while serving in the Vietnam War. 

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a "Fact-check" statement listing things he has done on veterans issues, to combat the "false attack" by Trump. 

"As Ronald Reagan used to say, 'facts are stubborn things,' and Senator McCain’s long history of working on behalf of his fellow veterans is clear," the statement said. 

In the last year alone, McCain authored two bills that were made into law — one that allowed veterans to seek healthcare at private facilities, among other reforms, and another that strengthened military suicide prevention programs. 

The statement also listed endorsements of McCain from veteran service organizations and statements that blasted Trump's comments. It included awards and recognitions McCain has received from groups including the Veterans of Foreign War, the American Legion and the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. 

McCain's office listed a PolitiFact article that called Trump's claim that McCain has "done nothing" for veterans "false," as well as a Factcheck.org article that said Trump "goes too far when he distorts and obscure the facts to fit his narrative." 

Trump has stoked the ire of McCain in other ways, including by saying the senator would lose reelection in 2016 to a primary challenger.

In a recent interview on "The Hugh Hewitt Show," McCain declined to attack Trump but said "the oxygen is sucked out of the room" by the oversized focus on the real estate mogul. 

"Because of all the attention being on Trump ... we don’t really get to examine the positions of the other candidates," he said in the interview Monday.

He also said it would be a step in the right direction if Trump were to pledge to support the Republican nominee instead of running a third-party bid if he doesn't win the nomination, which he first suggested during an exclusive interview with The Hill

But, he quickly added, the presidential campaign should be about the issues. 

"How are we going to lead in what Henry Kissinger described as the greatest number of crises since the end of World War II and the U.N. has said the largest number of refugees since the end of World War II?

"My friend, that’s what I believe should be the focus of this campaign," he said.