President Trump on Monday wished Sen. John McCain a healthy recovery from surgery — but then immediately pivoted to stressing to his old foe’s value in pushing the Republican health care bill through the Senate.
Lawmakers have found themselves at a standstill on health care reform after news broke Saturday that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., underwent surgery to remove a blood clot and will need at least a week to recover. Without McCain’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does not even have the support to bring his health care plan to the floor for debate.
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“And I can tell you, we hope John McCain gets better very soon,” Trump said at a “Made in America” event at the White House on Monday afternoon.
“Because we miss him. He’s a crusty voice in Washington — plus, we need his vote,” he continued. “And he’ll be back. And he will be back sooner than somebody else would be back — he’ll be back soon.”
Trump also expressed confidence that the Senate will approve the bill, despite the fact that its fate — even with McCain in Washington — is far from certain.
“We’re going to get that done, and I think we’re going to surprise some people,” Trump said. “They’re pushing very hard, the Republican senators, they’re great people … and we’re getting it together and it’s going to happen.”
McCain and Trump have long found themselves at odds, stretching back to the GOP primary, when Trump criticized McCain’s military service.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said at a campaign event in July 2015, after Arizona’s senior senator said Trump was riling up “crazies” at rallies in his home state. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump’s dismissive comments drew widespread bipartisan condemnation. McCain’s plane was shot down during the Vietnam War, and he was held prisoner for more than five years.
Trump initially refused to endorse McCain in his primary election last year before eventually relenting. But when McCain dropped his support of Trump over the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging in 2005 about groping women, the celebrity real estate mogul once again slammed him on social media.
The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
McCain and Trump have continued to take swipes at one another since the election. McCain dissented, for example, after Trump labeled the mainstream media “the enemy of the American people.”
“That’s how dictators get started,” McCain said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “They get started by suppressing a free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press.”
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