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Trump rips McCain on vets: 'Didn't get the job done'

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By Jonathan Allen  with NBC News Politics
Image: President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Lima Army Tank Plant
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the Lima Army Tank Plant in Ohio on March 20, 2019.   -   Copyright  Carlos Barria Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump hit the late Sen. John McCain with a fresh attack Wednesday, hammering the former prisoner of war as weak on veterans issues during a speech at an Army tank plant in Lima, Ohio.

"McCain didn't get the job done for our great vets at the VA and they knew it," Trump said, arguing that's why he won support from military veterans during the 2016 election after calling into question the longtime Arizona senator's service record.

Trump's broadsides over veterans issues — which treated McCain like a campaign-trail rival, rather than a deceased former leader of his own party — were part of an extended tirade against the former Arizona senator at the tank plant, and an even more expansive four-day rant.

The attacks, which started over the weekend on Twitter, have continued through the early part of the week, even as McCain's friends and family have cried foul publicly.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in a Wednesday radio interview with Georgie Public Broadcasting, denounced Trump's earlier remarks as "deplorable" — the term Hillary Clinton famously used to describe half of Trump's supporters during the 2016 campaign.

Trump told the audience in Lima that he would save the press time by unfolding his grievances against McCain from the podium.

In addition to veterans issues, he said, he repeated prior attacks on McCain for voting against a repeal of Obamacare, which he said ended up "badly hurting the Republican Party, badly hurting our nation and hurting many sick people who desperately wanted good affordable healthcare."

And, he said, McCain was on the wrong side of the Iraq War, which Trump lamented had cost the U.S. "tremendous wealth" and "tremendous lives."

Trump also took shots at 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Clinton.