President Donald Trump has escalated his attacks on the late Senator John McCain, saying that he gave the long-time politician “the kind of funeral he wanted” and adding: “I didn’t get a thank you.”
Mr Trump went on a lengthy diatribe against the Vietnam war veteran, Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump in Lima, Ohio (Evan Vucci/AP)
At an event in Ohio, Mr Trump repeated his complaint that Mr McCain voted against his legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law and argued that Mr McCain was not supportive of military veterans.
Mr Trump said “I’ve never liked him much”, adding that he “probably never will”.
Mr McCain died last year of brain cancer.
Mr Trump has spent days attacking him on Twitter and in his public comments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Mr McCain “a rare patriot and genuine American hero in the Senate.”
Mr McConnell tweeted, “His memory continues to remind me every day that our nation is sustained by the sacrifices of heroes.”
Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia said not only the McCain family but the nation “deserves better” than Mr Trump’s disparagement.
“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,” Mr Isakson told The Bulwark, a conservative news and opinion website.
Later, Mr Isakson called Mr Trump’s remarks “deplorable”.
Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the Republican 2012 presidential nominee whom Mr Trump briefly considered nominating as secretary of state, tweeted praise for Mr McCain on Tuesday — and criticism of Mr Trump.
“I can’t understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country, and God,” Mr Romney wrote.
Pushback also came from Senator Martha McSally, a Republican Air Force veteran appointed to Mr McCain’s seat from Arizona.
“John McCain is an American hero and I am thankful for his life of service and legacy to our country and Arizona,” she tweeted Wednesday.
“Everyone should give him and his family the respect, admiration, and peace they deserve.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, who wept openly on the Senate floor after Mr McCain died but has allied himself strongly with Mr Trump, said, “I think the president’s comments about Senator McCain hurt him more than they hurt the legacy of Senator McCain.”
“A lot of people are coming to John’s defence now. … I don’t like it when he says things about my friend John McCain.”
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, were eager to jump into the uproar.
“I look forward to soon re-introducing my legislation re-naming the Senate Russell Building after American hero, Senator John McCain,” tweeted Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.