Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has bristled at the comparison of President Donald Trump to the late former President Ronald Reagan. In his view, the current Commander-in-Chief does not promote the American values that he believes Reagan had upheld on the national stage.
On April 2, McCain shot down any comparisons between Trump and Reagan during an interview with University of Chicago Institute of Politics podcast "The Axe Files." The senator gave a terse response when asked if he agreed with some Republicans' assertion that Trump is similar to Reagan.
"No, I don't," McCain said, according to CNN.
The Arizona senator, who had been the GOP nominee during the 2008 election, pointed to Trump's defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin as evidence that the current commander-in-chief does not share the same values as Reagan.
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On Feb. 5, Trump reasserted his respect for Putin during an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.
"But, [Putin] is a killer," O'Reilly queried, according to Fox News.
"There are a lot of killers," Trump responded. "We've got a lot of killers... What, you think our country's so innocent?"
McCain blasted Trump for asserting that the U.S. does not have the moral authority to hold Putin's documented crimes to account.
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"To state that there's some moral equivalency between an imperfect nation -- that's the United States of America -- and Vladimir Putin is appalling," McCain continued.
He then compared Trump's assertion to Reagan's calls for former Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to demolish the Berlin Wall that had separated East and West Germany in 1987.
"I think it's pretty clear that there's a difference between, well, aren't we killers and the guy that stood there and said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall,'" McCain said. The Arizona senator concluded "That's a pretty big difference."
McCain has had a tumultuous public relationship with the president. In July 2015, Trump ignited controversy when he suggested that the Arizona senator had been overrated by his experience as a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War, according to AZCentral.
Trump said that he preferred soldiers "that weren't captured."
Despite being a vocal critic of Trump's policies, McCain endorsed the future president in May 2016, asserting that he would put aside his differences with the GOP nominee "Because I'm a proud Republican... And the Republicans have chosen the nominee for the party."
In October 2016, McCain rescinded his endorsement for Trump after the leaking of a 2005 audiotape featuring him bragging about groping and kissing women without consent, the Los Angeles Times reports.
McCain stated that Trump's comments in the audiotape "make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy."