President Trump said Sen. John McCain should "be careful" because "at some point, I fight back," after the Arizona Republican warned against "half-baked, spurious nationalism" in a speech Monday night.
Trump made the remark Tuesday during an interview with radio host Chris Plante. Plante asked Trump if had heard McCain's remarks from the night before.
"Yeah well, I hear it," Trump said. "People have to be careful because at some point, I fight back. I'm being nice. I'm being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won't be pretty."
Although Plante said McCain had been "taking shots" at Trump, McCain did not mention the president by name in his speech to accept the Nation Constitution Center's Liberty Medal in Philadelphia.
But he was clearly critical of Trump's "America first" worldview and its implications for the U.S. role as an international leader. The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman said those who embrace "spurious nationalism" are people "who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems."
When asked about Trump's reaction to his speech and his threat to "fight back," McCain — who spent more than five years as a prisoner of North Vietnam and is currently battling brain cancer — said, "I've faced far greater challenges than this," according to CNN.
McCain said his speech Monday was aimed at the "environment of nonproductivity" on Capitol Hill and a "reversion to the attitude of the '30s, which was one of the major reasons why we fought World War II."
The exchange is the latest bump in a rocky relationship between McCain and Trump. Trump has blamed McCain for the failed efforts to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act and once said he does not consider the former Navy pilot a war hero because he was captured.