Johnson walks back remark about brain cancer influencing McCain's vote
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRemembering Tom Coburn's quiet persistence Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner GOP seeks up to 0 billion to maximize financial help to airlines, other impacted industries MORE (R-Wis.) on Wednesday walked back comments he made earlier in the day on a Chicago radio station in which he seemed to imply that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainBiden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal Ernst calls for public presidential campaign funds to go to masks, protective equipment MORE's (R-Ariz.) brain cancer played a role in his decision last month to vote against the Senate's repeal of ObamaCare.

"I'm disappointed I didn't more eloquently express my sympathy for what Sen. McCain is going through," Johnson said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"I have nothing but respect for him, and the vote came at the end of a long day for everyone," he continued.

McCain cast a decisive vote on the Senate's "skinny repeal" of ObamaCare last month. The legislation failed by a vote of 49-51 in July. McCain was one of three Republican senators — and the most surprising, as he had not announced his position prior to the vote — to defect and vote against Senate leadership.

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On a Chicago radio station Wednesday morning, Johnson seemed to imply that the late hour of the Senate's vote and McCain's brain cancer might have "factored in" to his decision.

“He has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning. Some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said.

Earlier Wednesday, McCain's office responded to Johnson's remarks, calling them "bizarre and deeply unfortunate."

"It is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Sen. Johnson would question the judgement of a colleague and friend," a McCain spokesman told NBC.

"Sen. McCain has been very open and clear about the reasons for his vote," said the spokesman.