By Joseph Wulfsohn
Published March 21, 2019
President Trump’s approval ratings would be much higher if he didn’t go after respected Americans like the late Sen. John McCain, Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen argued Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, at an event in Ohio, Trump continued his attacks against McCain, the longtime senator and former prisoner of war who died of brain cancer last August at age 81. Trump lamented that no one said “thank you” to him for approving Washington-area funeral arrangements for McCain.
During Wednesday's "Special Report" All-Star” panel, Thiessen -- along with former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile and Washington Examiner chief congressional correspondent Susan Ferrechio -- weighed in on Trump’s handling of his constant attacks against the late senator.
Thiessen began by expressing he understands why Trump disliked McCain and there are “legitimate grievances,” but the president isn’t “hurting” the senator since he’s dead and that he’s only “hurting himself” because he’s “stepping on his own story” regarding the strong economy.
“There are millions of people in this country who are benefiting from the Trump economy who have jobs and opportunity and better lives because of this and they like Trump’s policies but they don’t like him because of things like this,” Thiessen said. “The reason why he’s in the low 40s approval instead of above 50 is persuadable voters look at this and say, ‘I don’t want to support a guy that goes after a dead war hero.’”
Ferrechio noted the “big back story” has shown that Trump and McCain have “not liked each other for a long time,” highlighting traded jabs during the 2016 election and McCain’s involvement in the Steele dossier that helped catapult the Russia investigation. She agreed with Thiessen, adding that because of the “complicated” back story, the general public just sees Trump going after a war hero.
Meanwhile, Brazile slammed Trump’s “tirade” against McCain, telling the panel that she learned as a child to “not speak ill of the dead.”
“John McCain leaves a legacy, a legacy of service, he leaves a legacy of sacrifice,” Brazile said. “John McCain should be honored for his service, but the criticism ... That’s beneath the office of the presidency.”