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Report: Trump defends response to McCain death

President Donald Trump defended his response to the death of Sen. John McCain in an interview with Bloomberg News.

Posted: Sep 1, 2018 8:11 AM
Updated: Sep 1, 2018 8:42 AM

President Donald Trump is in no mood to take lectures from John McCain and the weeklong national civics lesson the Arizona senator sketched with his own funeral rites.

On a day of poignant juxtaposition, McCain's flag draped coffin left his beloved home soil of Arizona for the last time Thursday after his friends eulogized a life embroidered with honor, self-sacrifice, American exceptionalism and the idea of serving a cause greater than oneself.

Leaving Washington to mourners, Trump flew west and unspooled the kind of brazen campaign trail performance -- tearing at the nation's political and cultural divides and bashing institutions such as the Justice Department -- that McCain planned his final goodbye to repudiate.

The former combat pilot's last flight ended in the gathering dusk of Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, as McCain was borne back to the capital, where he was once a ubiquitous figure, for the first time since December. Though McCain never became president, the military ceremony and sense of solemnity had the historic sense of a state occasion.

Less than an hour later, Trump, soaking in the adulation of a wildly cheering crowd, strolled on stage in Indiana to the strains of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" and opened his speech with a boast about his 2016 presidential win in the state and his economic record.

"Where the hell did she come from?" Trump asked, as his supporters booed a lone protester escorted from the arena, before bashing "dishonest, terrible" people in the media and lambasting the "old and corrupt ruling class," of which America could be "ashamed."

Chants of "lock her up, lock her up," echoed through the arena, aimed at Hillary Clinton.

The split screen moment of Trump, the showman in his element on stage, and Washington grandees gathering to mourn McCain, exemplified competing strains between traditional establishment politics and grassroots insurgencies at radical wings of each party that may define the just-stirring 2020 presidential campaign.

With that in mind, it seems fitting that in the next stage of McCain's farewell, his coffin will rest Friday in the Capitol Rotunda on the catafalque that first bore the remains of Abraham Lincoln, the President who warned his nation that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

A feud that will not die

Thursday's political theater personified the running feud that has raged between McCain and Trump even after the Arizona statesman's death from brain cancer on Saturday.

On the one side is politics McCain-style, in which a sometimes irascible temperament, relish for battle and dedication to conservatism did not preclude the late senator carving friendships across the aisle or seeking compromise on some of the most divisive issues.

By meticulously planning his funeral arrangements, including addresses by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- but not Trump -- McCain spelled out a clear message that he believed the current administration had taken an un-American turn.

On the other hand is the raucous rejection of traditional Washington values exemplified by Trump, whose insurgent fury, fondness for conspiracy theories and contempt for convention inspired Americans who felt rejected by the very political elites now lauding McCain.

Nearly two years since Trump's shock 2016 election win, McCain's brand of politics may be sorely missed by those who idealize it. But the President has the power, a fact that raises questions whether the nostalgia for McCain is also a valediction for a fading mode of politics.

Trump did not mention McCain at his rally. But earlier, he told Bloomberg News that he didn't think he had done anything wrong in his grudging response to his foe's death.

"We had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements. I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in," Trump said.

The values that McCain revered were encapsulated in a moving eulogy by his friend and Senate sparring partner, former Vice President Joe Biden at a memorial service in Phoenix.

"It was always about basic values with John: Fairness, honesty, dignity, respect; giving hate no safe harbor; leaving no one behind; and understanding that as Americans, we're part of something much bigger than ourselves," Biden said.

A volatile week, even by Trump's standards

Most politicians are ego driven, hungry for the next headline and sometimes attack the motives of their rivals, a practice Biden decried in his speech. But most take pains to hide such traits, and a few, such as McCain, honestly reflect on their own transgressions in a way that forges bonds with the public.

But Trump makes no attempt to disguise such behavior. His quintessential political insight was to put it at the core of his campaign trail persona -- and it helped him capture the Republican Party and the presidency. His unapologetic style is one reason he refused to temper his behavior in the week of McCain's passing -- and further alienated the more conventional politicians who loved the Arizona senator.

Trump's most fervent supporters would probably not recognize qualities in the President that Biden saw in McCain. But that is exactly what made him so popular with a political base ready to embrace a scorched earth candidate.

The proof has been everywhere in a week that has been volatile even by Trump's standards and suggests the President has little time for the notion that politics is about a cause greater than the individual. Often as he boasts about ratings and his poll numbers and his 2016 election triumph, it seems that for Trump, it's all about him.

Over the last week, Trump reacted to comparisons between him and McCain by offering lukewarm tributes and only belatedly lowering the flag over the White House to half-staff.

His determination to continue to wage a quarrel with a dead man exemplified his intense sensitivity to slights and prompted critics to conclude that he fails to put the wider duties of the office of the presidency above his personal image and preoccupations.

In the same vein, Trump's relentless humiliation of Jeff Sessions is born out of an often expressed resentment that the attorney general put his loyalty to the law before his personal fealty to the President by recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Trump also obsessed about his press coverage and complained that Google was censoring favorable stories about him. He issued a defensive statement to rebut criticism of his personal handling of the North Korea nuclear crisis. He insisted his team had done a "fantastic job" when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, despite new figures showing that nearly 3,000 people died in last year's disaster.

Almost every day Trump slammed the "rigged Russia witch hunt," along with the FBI and the Justice Department, pillars of the political system that McCain saw as essential parts of the foundation of US democracy.

It reflected a presidency that is becoming less and less conventional the longer it goes and often seems to revolve almost exclusively around the whims and outbursts of Trump himself. There's no chance that the focus on McCain and the politics and civic sensibilities he prized will change minds in the GOP base. Whether it will rouse other sectors of the electorate will begin to be answered in the midterm elections in November.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 453808

Reported Deaths: 6131
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin941381495
Ramsey40509748
Dakota33463350
Anoka31283368
Washington20471234
Stearns18051190
St. Louis13916247
Scott1213098
Wright11756107
Olmsted1073975
Sherburne827868
Carver703139
Clay657684
Rice621170
Kandiyohi556772
Blue Earth546833
Crow Wing489178
Otter Tail463167
Chisago458138
Benton423288
Winona394248
Douglas378466
Nobles374447
Mower372129
Goodhue355362
Polk330660
McLeod327947
Beltrami315048
Morrison314145
Lyon304738
Becker288839
Itasca287143
Isanti284842
Carlton283543
Steele278510
Pine269614
Freeborn253623
Todd233130
Nicollet227938
Brown217434
Mille Lacs215045
Le Sueur213516
Cass210524
Meeker201233
Waseca192816
Wabasha17413
Martin171726
Roseau166317
Hubbard150238
Redwood141027
Houston139814
Dodge13864
Renville138040
Chippewa132332
Cottonwood128918
Fillmore12646
Wadena120218
Rock111912
Aitkin111233
Sibley10947
Faribault108816
Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99318
Pipestone96423
Yellow Medicine94916
Murray9096
Jackson87310
Swift84418
Pope7465
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66016
Wilkin6349
Koochiching60310
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4693
Unassigned44568
Grant4388
Norman4258
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3204
Traverse2613
Lake of the Woods1961
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 310915

Reported Deaths: 4432
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46760465
Linn18037279
Scott15838172
Black Hawk14076243
Woodbury13111181
Johnson1228552
Dubuque11615159
Pottawattamie9146115
Dallas907772
Story879438
Cerro Gordo472572
Webster472077
Sioux459657
Warren458039
Clinton457768
Marshall430762
Buena Vista396230
Muscatine395878
Des Moines394943
Plymouth352870
Wapello349898
Jasper331659
Lee324132
Marion308953
Jones274650
Henry267331
Carroll258234
Bremer249848
Crawford234324
Washington222933
Boone222717
Benton213050
Mahaska197637
Jackson194932
Tama190159
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware176036
Clay172021
Wright166624
Fayette165924
Hamilton162230
Buchanan162024
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158162
Hardin156931
Cedar155519
Clayton153849
Butler150924
Page146415
Floyd141436
Cherokee140027
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek134924
Hancock131524
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123610
Calhoun12349
Grundy122528
Jefferson122125
Winnebago121729
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass114843
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112440
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union111023
Humboldt106619
Shelby105427
Guthrie104224
Franklin103318
Unassigned10110
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88324
Keokuk86326
Howard85519
Monroe82220
Clarke8108
Pocahontas78111
Ida75930
Davis70121
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona67018
Lucas66610
Osceola64711
Worth6184
Taylor5999
Fremont5246
Van Buren50215
Decatur4964
Ringgold44811
Audubon4218
Wayne41921
Adams2993
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