Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage

Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage
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Minnesota House Democratic candidate Dean Phillips has apologized to Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Overnight Defense: Trump steps up fight with California over guard deployment | Heitkamp is first Dem to back Pompeo for State | Dems question legality of Syria strikes MORE (R-Ariz.) for saying the veteran senator only had the courage to stand up to President Trump because of his brain cancer diagnosis. 

"First and foremost, I apologize to Sen. McCain for referencing his health, which I should not have done," Phillips said in a statement, according to the Washington Examiner.

"I greatly admire Sen. McCain's service to our country as well as his courage, and have for a long time," he continued. 

"The point I was trying to make is that too many Republicans in Congress today — unlike Sen. McCain, Sen. Collins and a few others — have shown a troubling lack of courage and willingness to stand up for their constituents, including when it comes to protecting their access to affordable healthcare," he said, referring to Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush MORE (R-Maine), who along with McCain helped to sink the GOP's health-care reform bill in the Senate. 

Phillips's comments come after he said that while he admired McCain and Republican Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerDemocrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Judge blocks Trump administration from transferring unnamed enemy combatant Rand Paul under pressure as Pompeo hunts for votes MORE (Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOvernight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Arizona GOP tinkers with election rules with an eye on McCain's seat Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State MORE (Ariz.) for speaking out against Trump's rhetoric and policies, he did not think it should "take brain cancer and the retirement from the Senate to do so.”

Flake and Corker, two of Trump's sharpest critics, have both announced they are not seeking reelection in 2018.

"I’ve been tweeting on occasion about saluting Bob Corker and John McCain and Jeff Flake — men who have shown a little bit of courage speaking truth to their own party," Phillips says in a YouTube video of a campaign appearance, which was posted on Tuesday. 

"But it shouldn’t take brain cancer and the retirement from the Senate to do so," he said. 

Phillips is looking to unseat Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) in Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District next year.