President Joe Biden on Thursday criticized Donald Trump for his repeated attacks on the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
The President met with journalist Nicolle Wallace to discuss a wide range of topics in an interview on MSNBC, taking a moment to talk about the work across the aisle.
Wallace, who was a top adviser to McCain during his 2008 presidential bid, asked Biden what he imagined the decorated Vietnam veteran would think of today’s Republican Party and its increasingly extreme politics.
“I don’t think he would think about it much,” the president said, adding that he couldn’t speak for the politician, who died of brain cancer in 2018.
Biden spoke about his deep connection to McCain, whom he met in the 1970s when he was involved in veterans’ affairs.
He recalled encouraging his friend to run for office despite their political differences.
″[McCain] When he came back from captivity, he started working with me and I helped persuade him to run,” the president said of the senator, who was imprisoned in Vietnam for more than five years. “And I used to tease him all the time. I said, ‘You have to do that, dammit.’”
Biden added that while the couple “fighted like hell, like brothers,” they always ended up “hugging each other.”
Although the duo did not always see eye to eye, President Wallace recalled how he has defended McCain’s legacy against members of McCain’s own party, particularly former President Trump.
“You may recall that I was very upset with the last President and even with my good friend Lindsey [Graham], sometimes because of “denial” of McCain’s heroism. Biden later said, “Come on, that guy was a hero! We may disagree, but he was a perfectly honorable man.”
Trump has never fully concealed his contempt for McCain.
In July 2015, then-candidate Trump belittled the senator’s military career. say, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who haven’t been captured.”
His anger at McCain increased after the Arizona senator made a last-minute decision in July 2017 to vote against a Republican measure to scrap the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking about McCain’s bipartisan vote at a White House press briefing in 2019, Trump said, “I think that’s a disgrace. Besides, there are other things. I was never a fan of John McCain and never will be.”
Trump complained again about McCain in his 2023 photo book, Letters to Trump, in which he wrote, “I never warmed to him. I’ve never felt good about anyone having anything to do with John McCain, and never will, although at her request I gave him the longest funeral in the world, eleven days. Much like his wars, they never ended.”
McCain’s memorial services spanned five days, only one of which was in the US Capitol.
Biden served as one of the senator’s pallbearers during services at Washington National Cathedral.
McCain urged President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush to deliver his eulogies while personally asking that Trump not be invited to his funeral.
Check out Biden’s full McCain comments here: