WASHINGTON — Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined other former elected officials on Sunday's "Meet the Press" to question President Trump's recent criticism of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.
Rubio told "Meet the Press" that he doesn't understand the president's repeated roadsides against McCain, noting McCain is "not here to defend himself" and defending McCain's record.
"I didn't agree with John McCain on everything, you know—so what? I honored and I respected the service to our country and his time in the Senate," he said.
"I always felt he did things that he felt passionate about and worked hard on behalf of those things. Whether you agree with him or not, I knew why he was doing it. It wasn't for some nefarious purpose. He was a man who was deeply influenced by his experience and by the things he went through
McCain has long been a target of Trump's ire, but the president hasn't stopped criticizing the senator since his death last year.
Those criticisms surfaced once again in recent days, with Trump repeatedly accusing McCain of trying to sink his presidency and failing Republicans by voting against the party's health care plan. The president also took issue with the response to his role in McCain's funeral—Trump lowered White House flags to half staff to honor McCain (after receiving criticism for not doing so faster) and allowed McCain's body to be flown to Washington on a government plane.
On "Meet the Press," panelists who had served in Congress with McCain echoed Rubio's criticism.
"I don't know what's wrong with this guy — how do you punch down to someone who was a POW and is dead?" former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill asked
"I think it's beyond weird and I think it shows some mental problems with this president that he feels the need to go after someone who is dead.
Carlos Curbelo, the former Florida Republican congressman, agreed with the criticism and lamented that a portion of the Republican base is "politically intoxicated."
"Republicans need to be stronger in saying — this is wrong. At some point you have to lead and not worry about whether or not you are going to get a primary challenge."