Sen. John McCain of Arizona kept up his criticism of some of the GOP’s younger wing on Friday — this time calling Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan “wacko birds.”
“They were elected; nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain told The Huffington Post
in an interview. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.”
When asked to clarify the statement, McCain said he was referencing “Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever.”
“I think it can be harmful if there is a belief among the American people that those people are reflective of the views of the majority of Republicans,” McCain told The Huffington Post. “They’re not.”
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Paul staged a nearly 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday to try to hold up the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director over White House drone policy on U.S. soil, which brought criticism from both McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
After the White House responded to Paul’s question on the drone issue, he ended his filibuster — and Brennan was confirmed on Thursday.
Meanwhile, conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh praised Paul’s filibuster move and said that attacks by McCain, Graham, and other senior Republicans reflected a broader concern of the junior Kentucky senator.
“There is a fear among McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others who favor an interventionist foreign policy,” Limbaugh said on his afternoon radio show
. “They’re worried that Rand Paul’s diatribe on drones really means that Rand Paul wants to bring the military home and not use it unless we’re attacked.
“Rand Paul made a connection with the American people,” Limbaugh continued. “These other people do not. Therefore, he has the ability to influence and motivate people. They’re afraid that what Rand Paul was doing was not just speaking out against the use of drones on American citizens on American soil.
“They’re afraid that Rand Paul is actually setting the stage for building up public support to stop the interventionist usage of American military might and foreign policy all over the world,” Limbaugh said.
McCain clashed with Amash over a joke the senior senator made on Twitter about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Amash called it “racist.” McCain told The Huffington Post that the congressman was “defending” Iran’s leader.
And McCain attacked Cruz for saying during the confirmation hearings on Chuck Hagel as defense secretary that he had accepted money from terrorist groups.
“He was making a presentation that said that Chuck Hagel might have taken money from Palestinian organizations, people connected with all that,” McCain told The Huffington Post. “Look, you can’t, without any basis in fact — you just don’t go around saying that kind of stuff.”
In response to McCain’s attack on Friday, Amash said on Twitter: “Sen McCain called @SenRandPaul @SenTedCruz & me ‘wacko birds.’ Bravo, Senator. You got us. Did you come up with that at #DinnerWithBarack?”
McCain and Graham were among a dozen GOP senators who had dinner with President Barack Obama on Wednesday as the president sought to shore up support among more moderate members of the party.
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