Democratic lawmakers sounded a similar note.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said shortly after the story broke that it was “unacceptable” for anyone in the Trump administration to “cruelly mock veterans” like McCain, no matter their political or policy differences. “He gave so much for our nation,” Reed said, referring to the torture McCain endured as a POW in Vietnam.
McCain, 81, who has served in Congress since 1983 and was the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2008, was diagnosed nearly a year ago with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He has not returned to Capitol Hill for several months while undergoing treatment.
Reacting to Sadler’s reported comment, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tweeted Friday, “Is part of being low and small that it’s irresistible to show just how low and small you are?”
“Our politics may be different but John McCain is an American hero,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., on Thursday. “The vile and repugnant attacks we’ve seen from POTUS, WH staff and the far right are disgusting and show how small they are next to this honorable man.”
The initial report of Sadler’s comment came the same day retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney mocked McCain during a TV appearance on the Fox Business network, arguing that torture had worked on the Arizona senator.
“The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John,” McInerney said. “That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’”
NBC News reported last weekend that people close to McCain have asked Vice President Mike Pence to participate in the senator’s funeral, not President Trump. Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush are expected to be eulogists at the funeral service, which is to be held at the Washington National Cathedral, a source close to McCain said.