President Donald Trump never apologized to John McCain for saying the senator is not a war hero. But the Arizona senator says in an interview airing tonight that while the two are “very different people,” he would never close the door to rapprochement.
“Sure. I’d be glad to converse with him,” McCain (R-Ariz.) told Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes.” “But I also understand that we’re very different people. Different upbringing. Different life experiences.”
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee and the now president had snipped back and forth at each other before Trump’s now infamous declaration in Ames, Iowa in July 2015 that McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was not a hero, because he was “captured.” But since then the tension has only escalated — peaking when the six-term senator delivered the dramatic death blow to the president’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in July and followed it up on Friday by saying he was opposed to most recent repeal vehicle.
Chalking up most of their differences to upbringing, McCain, son and grandson of Navy admirals, said Trump, son of a New York real estate maven, just values different things than he does.
“He is in the business of making money and he has been successful both in television as well as Miss America and others. I was raised in a military family,” McCain said. “I was raised in the concept and belief that duty, honor, country is the — is the lodestar for the behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.”
But McCain stressed that his no vote in July had nothing to do with animosity for the commander-in-chief.
“If I took offense at everybody who has said something about me, or disparaged me or something like that — life is too short,” he said. “And on an issue of this importance to the nation, for me to worry about a personal relationship, then I’m not doing my job.”
McCain was a prisoner in Vietnam for more than five years after being shot down during a bombing raid. Footage of McCain in the hospital soon after his capture was seen last week during one of the segments of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary on the Vietnam War.
The 81-year-old also spoke about his cancer diagnosis.
Like then-Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a severe kind of brain cancer. And like Kennedy, McCain has opted to continue serving in the Senate while he receives treatment and chemotherapy, sometimes on the same day of his official duties. (Kennedy died in 2009 at the age of 77.)
“I think about Ted a lot. Ted stayed at his job, kept working,” McCain said. “Kept going even when he was in a wheelchair. And he never gave up because he loved the engagement.”