Two of Sen. John McCain’s closest friends on Sunday defended his daughter’s apparent swipes at President Trump during her eulogy at the late Arizona senator’s funeral.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman both argued that Meghan McCain was grieving when making the eulogy for her father and that – just like the late senator himself – his daughter does not back down when criticized.
“If you say something bad about Meghan’s father, you will know it,” Graham said during an appearance Sunday morning on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s okay because she is grieving.”
Lieberman, who was once tapped to be on McCain’s presidential ticket despite being an Independent who caucused with the Democrats, said that Meghan’s father would have been proud of her “direct” manner of speaking and added that she did a “magnificent” job.
“By the nature of his life, she is called on to make a very public, global statement,” Lieberman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “She did it magnificently, the way her dad would want.”
Meghan McCain’s eulogy, which included quotes from her father’s favorite book, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway, and homages to his military service, took aim at the catchphrase made famous by Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign as well as the president’s multiple draft deferments that exempted him from serving in Vietnam.
“We gather to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice, those that live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served,” McCain said.
She added: “The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She’s resourceful, confident, secure. She meets her responsibilities. She speaks quietly because she’s strong. America does not boast because she has no need to. The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”
McCain’s words continue a long-running feud between her father and the president that began during the presidential campaign.
In 2015, after McCain had said Trump’s platform had “fired up the crazies,” Trump had mocked McCain’s imprisonment in the Vietnam War, saying: “I like people that weren’t captured.” Trump has also fumed about McCain’s vote last year to kill off a bill to reform ObamaCare.
Saturday’s funeral service notably did not feature President Trump, but Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner were in attendance as was Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. The two Cabinet-level officials accompanied McCain’s wife, Cindy, to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where she laid a wreath.
Trump did not make any public statement on Saturday regarding McCain’s comments, instead spending the day at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. Throughout the day, the president tweeted gripes about trade talks with Canada and the Justice Department, before making a veiled comeback to McCain’s eulogy.
“MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted around 7 p.m. ET.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.