Romney Defends ‘Heroic’ John McCain Against Trump’s Criticisms

Utah Republican keeps up the pressure — without acknowledging the truths of what the president is saying

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Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) voiced his dissatisfaction this week with President Donald Trump’s repeated criticism of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), calling the latter “heroic” and “honorable,” while criticizing the president for “disparaging” him.

Trump, earlier this week, was asked about previous comments regarding McCain and gave very legitimate grievances over his voting record — a record that included his flip-flop on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

“I’m very unhappy that he didn’t repeal and replace Obamacare, as you know,” the president said.

“He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years and then he got to a vote and he said thumbs down,” added Trump.

Trump is 1,000 percent correct on this point.

McCain vowed time and again to repeal and replace Obamacare, making it a distinction between him and his Democratic opponent.

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The Arizona senator even aired television ads promising to continue his role in “leading the fight to stop Obamacare.”

Related: Meghan McCain Blasts Trump: ‘He’ll Never Be a Great Man’

But it was Trump’s follow-up comment that drew the most attention.

Taken out of context, rather than as a reference to McCain’s Obamacare vote, the media ran it as a mean-spirited statement.

“I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” Trump said.

Romney defends McCain’s honor. Apparently misunderstanding that his career as a senator and his life as an American hero can warrant separate critiques, Romney said he couldn’t “understand why” Trump would go after McCain “once again.”

He then ticked off a list of things that made McCain the man a legend — but traits that he did not exhibit as a Republican senator running on conservative platforms.

This isn’t the first time Romney has criticized the president since winning his Senate bid.

The Utah congressman authored a column for The Washington Post on the first of January, indicating Trump had failed to live up to the “mantle” of the presidency.

Romney also warned that he would not hesitate to call out any “significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions” by the president in the future.

Apparently criticizing McCain for voting to uphold the signature legislation of Barack Obama amounts to something ‘destructive to democratic institutions.’

Trump ignores the criticism. Despite the media backlash, Romney’s comments, and criticism from within his own party, President Trump continues to go after John McCain.

“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” he told rally attendees in Lima, Ohio.

“I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank you. That’s OK.”

Indeed, the president did direct his then-Chief of Staff John Kelly to handle requests in regard to McCain’s family as in, “whatever they need they get.”

In an interview with Fox Business Channel host Maria Bartiromo, Trump slammed McCain as being the source of the Steele dossier’s being turned over to the FBI.

“It came out that his main person gave to the FBI the fake news dossier. It was a fake. It was a fraud,” Trump complained. “It was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. They gave it to John McCain who gave it to the FBI for very evil purposes. That’s not good.”

Romney’s motivation. One Republican National Committee member has said that Romney’s calculated criticism of the president is an attempt to up-end the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.

Whatever his reasoning may be, Romney’s criticisms of Trump on this matter are fair.

But Trump’s criticism of McCain from a political perspective is most certainly fair as well.

This piece originally appeared in The Political Insider and is used by permission.

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