DES MOINES, Iowa – Sen. John McCain repeatedly compared President Donald Trump to a dictator during Trump’s inaugural address, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic White House contender and friend of the late Arizonan, told a crowd of voters here.
Klobuchar, speaking to a crowd of more than 200 at Jasper’s Winery, said she sat next to McCain, one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the inaugural address, which became known for its blunt expression of Trump’s authoritarian populism and invocations of “American carnage.”
“I sat on that stage between Bernie and John McCain, and John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation,” Klobuchar said. “He understood it. He knew because he knew this man more than any of us did.”
McCain and Trump feuded frequently during the president’s first 18 months in office, and the president has continued to attack McCain since the senator’s death last August. McCain refused to endorse Trump during the 2016 campaign, and later attacked his approach to politics as a “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”
Trump, for his part, attacked McCain for his vote to kill an Obamacare repeal bill in the Senate and famously criticized him for being captured while serving as a pilot in Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured,” he said in the early stages of his presidential bid.
McCain faced criticism from Democrats for not doing more to oppose the policies and appointments of a president he frequently lambasted, but Klobuchar and other Democratic senators frequently praise him as a Republican they were able to work with during increasingly partisan times. Klobuchar regularly mentions her friendship with McCain during her stump speech.
CORRECTION: This article previously misidentified McCain as a fighter pilot. McCain flew attack aircraft on bombing missions.