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Republicans Are Slamming Donald Trump Over His Criticism of George HW Bush and John McCain at A Montana Rally

For many, the president went too far.

Prominent Republicans criticized President Donald Trump after he used a moment during his appearance at a rally in Montana to impugn former President George H.W. Bush.

Speaking at the rally, Trump mocked Bush's slogan "thousand points of light," which he popularized during his presidential campaign. The phrase later became the titular slogan for Bush's volunteer organization, which he now serves as honorary chairman.

"You know all of the rhetoric you see. 'Thousand points of light.' What the hell was that by the way?" Trump said.

"Thousand points of light," he added. "What does that mean? I know one thing. 'Make America Great Again' we understand. Putting America first we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? It was put out by a Republican, wasn't it?"

The president's statements received a harsh rebuke from Rick Wilson, a Republican political strategist and media consultant who became well known during the 2016 presidential campaign for his vigorous denunciations of Trump and his supporters. Wilson called Trump "small, shameless, low" and "corrupt."

“This is so uncalled for,” wrote Ari Fleischer, who served as Bush's press secretary during his tenure in the White House.

Richard Haas, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, also weighed in.

Joe Scarborough, who has been vocal about the love lost between him and the Republican party since Trump won the 2016 presidential election, took a moment to highlight Bush's accomplishments.

Bush's granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, tweeted out a quote  from a letter her grandfather wrote more than 20 years ago. The subject: Kindness.

Of her grandfather's organization's slogan, Hager said, "a point of light was a vision about serving others, one that lit up our country, one I hope our country hasn’t lost."

But the former president wasn't the only Republican leader President Trump railed against. He also chided Senator John McCain for his vote on healthcare.

Even though we got a little surprise vote that evening, you all remember that evening? Somebody came in with a thumbs down after campaigning for years that he was going to repeal and replace,” Trump said about McCain.

The reactions to the president's comments on McCain, who is dying from brain cancer, were similarly heated.

Trump has often mocked McCain, a former Vietnam War prisoner-of-war. He once infamously said of McCain, "I like people who weren't captured."

Last year, Senator McCain in an interview about the Vietnam War, appeared to mock President Trump’s draft deferments, pointing to wealthy Americans who were able to get out of being drafted into service. McCain, who during the conflict spent several years as a prisoner of war, notoriously sparred with Trump in 2016 after Trump, then a presidential candidate, doubted his status as a war hero.

“One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,” McCain said. “That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.”

Trump received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including one medical deferment after he was diagnosed with bone spurs––protrusions caused by calcium built up on the heel bone––in his foot while a student at the private New York Military Academy. “I had a doctor that gave me a letter — a very strong letter on the heels,” he said during an interview with The New York Times in 2016 explaining his deferments, adding that the heel spurs were “not a big problem, but it was enough of a problem.”

The Montana rally came with more controversies, too.

President Trump launched a sustained attack against Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during one freewheeling moment, reviving his “Pocahontas” nickname for Warren and challenged her to submit to a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage.

“I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,” he said. “I have a feeling she will say no. She’s based her life on being a minority.”

The president clarified that he would toss the genetic testing kit to her “gently because we’re the #MeToo generation,” a comment which mocks the international movement against sexual harassment and assault which, among many other examples, spotlighted his own sordid history of abuse and emphasized comments he made on the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape.

The irony of these comments appeared to be lost on Trump, who further used the social movement to impugn Warren:

I’m gonna get one of those little kits. And in the middle of the debate, when she proclaims that she’s from Indian heritage, because her mother says she has high cheekbones. That’s her only evidence, that her mother said she had high cheekbones.

We will take that little kit and say — but we have to do it gently, because we’re in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm, even though it only weighs probably two ounces.

Warren soon responded to the president's jabs, taking his administration to task for the humanitarian crisis they’ve created––and exacerbated––along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Warren’s response was a reference to reports that the U.S. government is performing DNA tests on children and parents in an attempt to reunite migrant families separated at the border as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” family separations policy.

The Department of Health and Human Services will be conducting DNA tests by taking a cheek swab of every child before matching him or her with a parent. The move comes after a federal judge in the Southern District of California ordered that the government must reunite parents separated from children younger than 5 by July 10 and children ages 5-17 by July 26.

The president––and many of Warren’s critics––have alleged that Warren used false claims of Native American heritage to gain an edge over other candidates for a faculty position at Harvard University. However, a simple fact check indicates that these claims don’t hold under scrutiny.

As Snopes notes, “specific evidence that she gained her position at Harvard (at least in part) through her claims to Native American heritage is lacking.” Moreover, several people with whom Warren worked at Harvard, including David Bernstein, who is the former chairman of the American Association of Law Schools, have said that her ancestral background did not factor into the professional opportunities she received while employed at Harvard.