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Former governor Dukakis fires back after Trump mention at Ohio tank plant

President Donald Trump. Evan Vucci/Associated Press/Associated Press

Former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis lambasted President Trump on Wednesday, criticizing Trump’s lack of military service and his recent attacks on the late US senator John McCain.

“His attacks on John McCain are disgusting,” Dukakis said. “John McCain served his country nobly and well. He spent five years in a cage in Vietnam. And Trump’s continued attacks on him are just another example of someone who has no sense of honor, no sense of integrity, and is absolutely gutless.”

McCain, a pilot in the Vietnam War, was shot down and imprisoned by the North Vietnamese for more than five years. He returned to the United States and served in the Senate for three decades, becoming the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. He died in August at the age of 81.


The Republican president has been critical of McCain in recent days. He continued his criticisms at an appearance at an Army tank manufacturer in Ohio on Wednesday, saying, “I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

In the Ohio appearance, Trump also joked about Dukakis, saying he wanted to get into one of the vehicles but was stopped by a memory of Dukakis. Trump said Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, ‘‘tanked when he got into the tank.’’

“The helmet was bigger than he was. That was not good,” Trump said.

In 1988 Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis took a ride in a M1-A-1 battle tank.Michael E. Samojeden/Associated Press/Associated Press

Dukakis, now a professor at Northeastern University, focused in a telephone interview on Trump’s lack of military service.

“I call Trump these days the draft-dodger-in-chief. While thousands of young Americans were fighting and dying in Vietnam, he was doing everything he could not to serve. Like thousands of young Americans, I served in the military, 16 months of which were 7 miles from the DMZ in Korea.”

“Trump claimed he had bone spurs in his heels, and he can’t even remember where they were — just another rich kid who used his father’s influence to avoid military service,” Dukakis said.


During the 1988 campaign, Dukakis donned a helmet and rode in a tank during a stop at a Michigan factory. The photo opportunity backfired. Dukakis’s Republican rival, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, ran campaign ads using footage of Dukakis in the tank.

Most politicians since then have avoided wearing anything on their heads, but Trump often wears caps bearing his ‘‘Make America Great Again’’ campaign slogan.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.