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McAuliffe to Trump on North Korea: ‘Knock It Off,’ You’re ‘Literally Putting Gas on the Fire’

President Trump talks with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe during commissioning ceremonies aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va., on July 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

ARLINGTON, Va. – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has not ruled out a 2020 presidential run, slammed President Trump for making his “fire and fury” threat to North Korea’s regime.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said Tuesday after reports that Pyongyang had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile. “He has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. And as I said, they will be met with fire, fury, and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

McAuliffe called the North Korea situation “very delicate” and agreed with lawmakers who have said Trump should “town done” his rhetoric.

“We have a lot of the world community – the vote we just had in the UN – everybody is coming together but we’ve got to do this smartly and diplomatically, and the president has got to tone down this rhetoric,” the governor said, referring to a unanimous UN Security Council vote expanding sanctions on Kim Jong-un’s regime. “I mean, ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen,’ you know, that’s not a comforting message, that’s not a diplomatic message.”

“I was too young, but I have seen the images of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – that was fire and fury, and he is now saying it will be worse than that,” McAuliffe said after announcing an I-395 express lanes expansion project in Pentagon City today. “Knock it off. You’re the president of the United States; start acting like one.”

“I just think he needs to be a lot more careful in what he says. Diplomacy is an art and you want to get everybody to the table in a peaceful manner, and he is not helping. He is literally putting gas on the fire and it’s not helpful to where we need to be. It’s a very serious situation,” he added.

McAuliffe, chairman of the National Governors Association, was asked what he thinks the Democrats must do to win a congressional majority in the midterm election.

“We’ve got a great slew of candidates who are running. The recruitment has been great. The one thing about Trump being in the low 30s [approval rating] is it’s hurt their recruitment. We need 24 seats to take the House back – continuing to lean on the family issues, education and job creation, keep talking about that and healthcare. I mean, they have so botched up healthcare, the Republicans, people are scared to death,” he said. “I feel very good. The president is in the low 30s in Virginia. I think we’re going to have a banner year. We’ve focused on what the people want us to.”

McAuliffe said he has personally told Trump to focus on issues such as infrastructure and fixing Obamacare instead of repealing it.

“I’ve known the president for 20 years. I’ve been very blunt – focus on what you said you would do when you ran for office: jobs, economic development. You promised us, Mr. President, healthcare for all Americans that would be cheaper and you would have better results,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the first 200 days we’ve seen none of that. We don’t have an infrastructure plan today. We don’t have a tax reform plan and we haven’t had a healthcare plan.”

McAuliffe said Congress has to arrive at a solution to repair Obamacare because premiums are rising.

“We need to fix Obamacare, no question, and we need to bring the premiums down –and Democrats have said ‘let’s work together,’ and to this day they didn’t work with us,” he said. “Forget about winning elections. For the sake of this country, we’ve got to fix healthcare. The premiums are going up.”

McAuliffe had a direct message for Trump.

“We want to work with you. Do what you said would do. Knock off the tweets and get serious about tax reform, infrastructure and help us figure out healthcare. It does need to be fixed. There’s no question we need to reform Obamacare to bring the cost down, but do it in a bipartisan way – that’s all I’m asking. And every time I meet with him he says, ‘you’re right, I’ll work with you,’ but I’m still waiting for the phone call,” he said.

McAuliffe was asked if he plans to run for “another office.”

“I’ve got four and a half months left and I think it’s probably time but, you know, listen, we’ve had some great accomplishments, economic development, job creation but I put transportation – I think you realize how thorny an issue this is to get these jurisdictions to come together,” he said, referring to his administration’s work on transportation projects.

“So I don’t know what I’m going to do next – honestly, you people pay me. You pay my salary and I’m going to finish strong as governor, but I’m very proud of where we are,” McAuliffe added. “Look at education, the largest investment in the history of the state last year.”