WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Mitt Romney criticized President Donald Trump for a series of attacks he made against the late Sen. John McCain, who Romney called a “honorable” and “courageous” man.
Romney, in a tweet Tuesday evening, hailed McCain, a longtime senator, veteran and former prisoner of war, and questioned the reasoning behind Trump’s attacks, which continued on Tuesday — months after McCain’s August death after a battle with brain cancer.
“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,” Romney wrote on Twitter.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump defended his ongoing attacks McCain and said he never liked the Arizona senator due to differences on health care and Russia.
“I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” Trump told reporters at the White House, answering a question before a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
It’s far from the first time Romney, who was elected last year, has criticized the president. Just before being sworn into office in January, Romney wrote in an opinion piece that Trump had “not risen to the mantle of the office.”
More: Donald Trump: ‘I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be’
More: Mitt Romney on President Donald Trump: He hasn’t ‘risen to the mantle of the office’
“With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable,” the Utah Republican and 2012 presidential nominee wrote in a Washington Post op-ed posted online Tuesday night. “And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”
Before the 2016 election, Romney called Trump a “fraud” and opposed his nomination. The two later made peace but it appears that goodwill was not long lasting.
Supporters of McCain said they don’t understand why Trump would continually criticize a dead man, especially one who represented Republicans as their 2008 presidential nominee.
During a series of tweets over the weekend, Trump hit McCain for his handling of a dossier compiled by a former British spy on Trump’s relationship with Russia leading up to the 2016 election.
“So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) ‘last in his class’ (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!”
Trump also blamed McCain for casting a key vote against a Republican health care plan.
McCain supporters pointed out that Trump was incorrect about the late senator’s class standing – he finished fifth from the bottom at the Naval Academy, something he joked about frequently. They also called the attacks disrespectful to the longtime senator, veteran and former prisoner of war.
“Your life is spent on your weekends not with your family, not with your friends, but obsessing, obsessing over great men you could never live up to,” daughter Meghan McCain said of her father on her television program, “The View.”
The Trump-McCain feud goes back to the summer of 2015, when Trump kindled it by mocking McCain’s experience as a POW in Vietnam.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said then. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
Contributing: David Jackson