Politics

Christie Shames Media for Making McCain’s Funeral About Trump

Former New Jersey governor says POTUS shouldn't have been the focus of late senator's memorial services or the resulting coverage

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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) used a Sunday interview on ABC News’ “This Week” to rebuke journalists for making Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) memorial services about tearing down President Donald Trump instead of honoring “the life of John McCain.”

“I think [Trump] understands the significance of the passing of John McCain, and quite frankly, I think that’s what we should all be focused on,” Christie, now an ABC News contributor, replied when ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked him if Trump “understands the significance.”

“And this is part of the problem with Washington, D.C. — it’s the commentary we have been hearing for the last 24 hours or so all about the rebukes supposedly of President Trump rather than the life of John McCain,” Christie said.

McCain died August 25 after battling brain cancer for a year.

He was a Navy pilot and spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He served in the Senate for more than 30 years and was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee against former President Barack Obama.

Trump and McCain had a tense and often hostile relationship that remained bitter until the end. Although McCain stipulated that Trump would not be invited to any of his memorial services, the snubbed president loomed large over the proceedings.

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“The president was golfing, or heading for the golf course just as Meghan McCain was speaking” at her father’s memorial service Saturday, Raddatz pointed out to Christie before asking if he thought Trump “understands the significance of the passing of John McCain.”

Christie rebuked media outlets for lavishing coverage on the Trump-McCain feud and the repeated jabs Meghan McCain, Obama and former President George W. Bush leveled at the absent president, during their eulogies in particular.

“The fact is that there were extraordinary tributes yesterday that we didn’t hear any clips of before we all started speaking here — extraordinary things that were said by President Bush 43, by President Obama, by [former Sen.] Joe Lieberman, who didn’t rebuke President Trump at all yesterday in his remarks and focused on his friend, John McCain, and the extraordinary man that he was, the extraordinary sense of humor he had, and his toughness, and his temper,” Christie said.

“And I can tell you as a friend of John McCain’s — this is a guy who, when he was your friend, he was your friend,” Christie added. “And quite frankly, I think the tribute to John McCain should be us talking about that. Next week we can talk about all the political ramifications.”

Raddatz bristled when Christie criticized the media

“Gov. Christie, we’ve been talking about it all week and we’ve been certainly talking about the heroism of John McCain and carried that live on Saturday,” Raddatz insisted. “But it was Megan McCain who got the most attention yesterday, and you have to know that Donald Trump was the elephant in the room at that memorial service. So do you think he has handled this well?”

Related: The John McCain Eulogies Deliberately Slammed Donald Trump — Was This Right?

Christie said the president of the United States” no matter who that person is” always is “the elephant in the room when they’re not there.”

“And he wasn’t there,” Raddatz countered.

But Christie reminded her that it was McCain’s “desire” for Trump to be excluded “and his desire should be respected.”

“People who are not invited to a funeral shouldn’t show up,” Christie said. “It was good that the president didn’t try to elbow his way in there … There were lots of representatives of the Trump administration there yesterday to show that this administration has great respect for John McCain, despite whatever political disagreements they may have had over time.”

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