Arizona Sen. John McCain lit into Ted Cruz's marathon speech against Obamacare shortly after the Texas senator's 21-hour effort came to its conclusion on Wednesday.
McCain, Republicans' 2008 presidential nominee, castigated the effort to use the specter of a government shutdown to defund Obamacare. But more pointedly, McCain sharply criticized Cruz for likening those who oppose defunding Obamacare to Nazi appeasers before World War II.
"I resoundingly reject that allegation. That allegation, in my view, does a great disservice," McCain said on the Senate floor. "I do not agree with that comparison; I think it's wrong."
Cruz had said Tuesday on the Senate floor in reference to those who are skeptical of the effort to undo Obamacare: "I suspect those same pundits who say it can't be done, if it had been in the 1940s we would have been listening to them. Then they would have made television. They would have gotten beyond carrier pigeons and beyond letters and they would have been on tv and they would have been saying, 'You cannot defeat the Germans.'"
McCain said he had spoken with Cruz about the remark, and that the Texas senator had explained his comment was in reference to pundits, and not fellow senators.
"I find that a difference without a distinction. I find that something that I think I have to respond to," the Arizona senator said. "I do not begrudge Sen. Cruz or any other senator who wants to come talk as long as they want to or as long as they can, depending on the rules of the Senate. But I do disagree strongly that, to allege that there are people today who are like those who, prior to World War II, didn't stand up and oppose the atrocities that were taking place in Europe."
McCain noted in his speech that he was in the Senate during the 2009-10 debate over passing Obamacare, and that he campaigned for re-election in 2010 on his opposition to Obamacare. But he said the voters had rendered their verdict on the health care reform program in the 2012 election.
"The people spoke -- they spoke much to my dismay. But they spoke, and they re-elected the president of the United States," McCain said.
The longtime Arizona Republican said lawmakers should not "give up our efforts to repair Obamacare," but argued it wasn't worth shuttering the government over it.