Now McCain Is a ‘Hero’ to Trump

President praises Arizona Republican’s return to Washington

Arizona Sen. John McCain returns to the Hill on Tuesday to vote on a motion to proceed on the Republican health care legislation. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Washington is showering its praises on Sen. John McCain for returning to the Capitol onTuesday to vote on the Senate’s motion to proceed on the bill to dismantle the 2010 health care law, a week after he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an often fatal form of brain cancer.

Leading the charge on Tuesday morning was President Donald Trump, who once belittled the Arizona Republican for being shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.

The president tweeted Tuesday that it was “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote,” calling him “brave” and an “American hero.”

Trump and McCain have butted heads over the former’s brash rhetoric on the campaign trail and his hard stance against immigration since Trump thrust himself onto the national political scene as a legitimate presidential candidate in 2015 .

In July 2015, Trump, then just an outsider candidate for the Republican nomination, told a crowd at a campaign event in Ames, Iowa, that McCain was “not a war hero.”

“He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” the candidate said.

When Trump signed the first iteration of his executive order travel ban against citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa in January, McCain was on the front line of lawmakers pushing back against the ban.

“We fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” McCain said in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred,” the statement continued, in a reference to the Islamic State terrorist group. “This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.”

McCain has voted with the president’s position 90.5 percent of the time since Trump’s inauguration in January, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. But that is the third-lowest mark among Republicans, trailing only Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine.

The longtime Arizona senator has also criticized Trump on foreign policy, as recently as Monday, tweeting that a Washington Post story headlined “The Trump team is repeating Obama’s mistakes in Syria” was a “must-read.”

In a Monday statement, McCain’s office said the senator “looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.”

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