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.”
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