President Joe Biden claimed on Thursday that he “never said a negative thing” about the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) — but a quick search of his comments during the 2008 presidential campaign alone reveals that Biden’s statement is not true.
Biden made the statement during a White House ceremony honoring McCain along with 16 other new recipients — including champion gymnast Simone Biles and soccer star Megan Rapinoe — of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. McCain’s award was presented posthumously to his widow, Cindy McCain, who currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome.
“I will admit to my Democratic friends I’m the guy who encouraged John to go home and run for office, for real, because I knew what incredible courage, intellect and conscience he had,” Biden said. “We ran against each other, which I didn’t like, on tickets for the highest office in the land. I was a candidate for vice president, he was the candidate for president. I never stopped admiring John. Never said a negative thing about him in my life because I knew his honor, his courage, and his commitment.”
“I never stopped admiring John. Never said a negative thing about him in my life because I knew his honor, his courage and his commitment.”
— ABC News (@ABC) July 7, 2022
But during the very campaign Biden mentioned — when he was running for vice president alongside former President Barack Obama and McCain had the Republican nomination — Biden had taken several swipes at the Arizona senator.
Criticizing McCain as an “angry man” who was lashing out at Obama because he didn’t like being tied too closely to former President George W. Bush, Biden said of McCain, “You can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve ever been is a sidekick.” He claimed to have stolen the line from Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).
During the same Florida speech — in October of 2008 — Biden described “what a majority of American people are looking for — a steady hand, leadership, an optimist; not an angry man, lurching from one position to another.”
Biden also accused McCain of attempting to take “the low road to the highest office in the land,” saying that he was rooting his campaign in personal attacks — prompting some to believe that their long friendship might not recover.
“With friends like Joe Biden, John McCain doesn’t need enemies. John McCain is not going to forgive. He’s not a forgiving type,” Paul Light of New York University’s Center for the Study of Congress explained.