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John McCain erupts at Ted Cruz for CPAC remarks

Ted Cruz addressed CPAC
Ted Cruz addressed CPAC
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

According to a March 7, 2014 story in the Washington Post, Sen. John McCain slammed Sen. Ted Cruz for the latter’s remarks at the CPAC convention. Cruz was criticizing the fact than many past Republican nominees for president have been moderates who, in his judgment, were insufficiently principled in their failed campaigns.

“All of us remember President Dole and President McCain and President Romney — 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," Cruz said.

This caused McCain to wax wroth.

“He can say what he wants to about me; he can say anything he wants to about Mitt.... Mitt can take it. But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on a 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 principle and integrity. I hope Ted Cruz will apologize to Bob Dole because that's crossed a line that to me leaves the realm of politics and discourse we should have in America.”

There are a couple of takeaways in this exchange.

First, McCain exercised becoming modesty in not invoking his own war record, which involved long years or torture and confinement in the notorious prison known as the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Dole’s injuries were far more serious, involving years of surgeries and rehab to bring him from a hospital bed to becoming a distinguished United States senator and presidential candidate.

Second, Cruz might be forgiven if he wonders what McCain is talking about. Cruz’s critique was solely about how Dole, McCain, and Romney conducted their presidential campaigns, not about their entire lives or even their entire political careers. He did say that they were good and decent men. There was nothing in Cruz’s remarks that could be seen as disrespect for either Dole’s or McCain’s war records.

What we have here is an example of McCain’s famous volcanic temper, enhanced it may be surmised by the jealousy of an alleged maverick politician for the real article.