Watch CBS News

Trump slams McCain at Ohio event, but few Republicans are responding

Trump says he wasn't thanked for McCain's funeral
Trump says he wasn't thanked for John McCain's funeral 00:30

President Trump continued his attacks against late Sen. John McCain at an event in Ohio on Wednesday, slamming McCain's vote against repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and complaining that he did not receive a thank you after the senator's Washington funeral.

"I have to be honest, I've never liked him much. Hasn't been for me. I really probably never will," Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump said he "gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted," but "I didn't get a thank you." The president was not invited to McCain's funeral in September.

Mr. Trump also blamed McCain for the failed Obamacare repeal vote and for the unproven dossier alleging ties between Mr. Trump and Russia, as he has on Twitter and in live remarks over the last few days. He bashed McCain for supporting the war in Iraq.

"We're at war in the Middle East that McCain pushed so hard," Trump said. "Calling Bush all the time, get into the Middle East."

Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, was one of the few Republicans to denounce Mr. Trump in a radio interview Wednesday afternoon.

"It's deplorable what he said. That's what I called it from the floor of the Senate seven months ago," the Georgia senator said during the interview, adding that said the President's weekend comments showed a "lack of respect" for McCain's service. However, he expressed opposition to naming the Russel Senate Office Building after McCain, saying that the proposal by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to do so was "playing politics."

Isakson indicated his plans to hit back against Mr. Trump's words on McCain on Tuesday evening.

"I just want to lay it on the line, that the country deserves better, the McCain family deserves better, I don't care if he's president of the United States, owns all the real estate in New York, or is building the greatest immigration system in the world," Isakson said about Mr. Trump in an interview with the website The Bulwark on Tuesday evening. "Nothing is more important than the integrity of the country and those who fought and risked their lives for all of us."

Mr. Trump has mocked McCain's time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and repeatedly slammed him for his vote against repealing and replacing Obamacare in July 2017. McCain, perhaps the last lion of the Senate, died of brain cancer in August.

Over the weekend Mr. Trump renewed his attacks on McCain over Twitter, blaming him for sending the Steele dossier to the FBI and falsely claiming that he was last in his class at Annapolis. The dossier, a collection of memos by former British spy Christopher Steele, contains unverified material detailing possible connections between Russian and Mr. Trump's presidential campaign. The president told reporters on Tuesday that he was "never a fan of John McCain and never will be."

Most Republicans have offered a muted response to Mr. Trump's attacks on McCain, mentioning their admiration for McCain without naming the president.

One of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, issued two tweets praising McCain without mentioning Mr. Trump. Sen. Mitt Romney, a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, went a step further, writing on Twitter, "I can't understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain."

"Today and every day I miss my good friend John McCain. It was a blessing to serve alongside a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate. His memory continues to remind me every day that our nation is sustained by the sacrifices of heroes," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in an afternoon tweet.

After McCain's death in August, Isakson said on the Senate floor that "anybody who in any way tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping." The senator now intends to fulfill that promise with Mr. Trump, telling The Bulwark, "I want to do what I said that day on the floor of the Senate."

"When the president is saying that that he doesn't respect John McCain and he's never going to respect John McCain and all these kids are out there listening to the president of the United States talk that way about the most decorated senator in history who is dead it just sets the worst tone possible," Isakson said.

McCain's daughter, Meghan, has engaged in a war of words with the president over Mr. Trump's attacks on her father.

"No one will ever love you the way they loved my father.... I wish I had been given more Saturday's with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of on twitter obsessing over mine?" Meghan McCain tweeted in response to Mr. Trump on Saturday. The president replied by retweeting someone who said "WRONG Meghan! Millions of Americans truly LOVE President Trump, not McCain. I'm one!"

Alan He contributed to this report

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.