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McCain: Cruz's Criticism of Bob Dole Crossed a Line

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John McCain said Friday he told Sen. Ted Cruz that the Texas Republican's criticism of former Majority Leader Bob Dole in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference crossed a line.  

In an interview on MSNBC, McCain said he confronted Cruz on the Senate floor about the freshman's CPAC comments from Thursday, in which Cruz called out Dole, McCain and Mitt Romney — the party's last three unsuccessful presidential nominees.  

"I spoke to Ted Cruz — he and I have a cordial relationship — about this, and he can say what he wants about me, and he can say anything he wants to, I think, about Mitt," the Arizona Republican said. "But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country? Bob Dole is such a man of honor and integrity and principle."  

Dole was severely wounded on the battlefield during World War II. He recovered from his war injuries along with fellow future Sens. Philip Hart of Michigan and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii. McCain noted Dole's current health condition during the TV interview.  

Cruz, a potential White House contender in 2016, was the first speaker at the three-day conference of conservative activists held just outside the Beltway at National Harbor, Md.  

"Of course, all of us remember President Dole and President McCain and President Romney," Cruz said at CPAC. "Now look, those are good men. They're decent men, but when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction; when you don't stand for principle, Democrats celebrate."