2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney praised Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRedistricting reform key to achieving the bipartisanship Americans claim to want Kelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (R) on Tuesday for his "Lincolnesque" speech, in which the Arizona senator warned about “half-baked, spurious nationalism."
"Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of Sen. John McCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque," Romney wrote on Twitter.
Ran against him, sometimes disagree, but proud to be a friend of @SenJohnMcCain: hero, champion of character and last night, Lincolnesque.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) October 17, 2017
McCain warned of "spurious nationalism" during a speech Monday night in Philadelphia after receiving the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal.
While McCain did not directly mention President Trump, he appeared to take aim at the state of the nation under his administration by criticizing the abandonment of U.S. leadership abroad as "unpatriotic" and appearing to condemn white nationalist movements who are "consigned to the ash heap of history."
“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth' for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history,” McCain said in the speech.
“We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil,” the GOP senator said, adding that Americans “are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad.”
The Nazi slogan "blood and soil" was echoed in chants by white supremacist groups who sparked violence in Charlottesville, Va., in August.
Trump, in response to the speech, told WMAL radio host Chris Plante that "at some point, I fight back and it won’t be pretty."
McCain appeared to brush off the comments, telling CNN shortly afterward that he has "faced far greater challenges than this."
Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE presented the prestigious Liberty Medal to McCain for his “lifetime of sacrifice and service” to the U.S.
McCain served in the Navy for more than two decades and was held as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.
Both prominent politicos had warned in the run-up to the 2016 election that then-candidate Trump would be a threat to the nation's democratic system.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, vied and ultimately lost the Republican nomination against McCain in the 2008 presidential election before becoming the party's nominee in 2012.
McCain, who was diagnosed with brain cancer over the summer, has broken with Trump on several key issues, including casting the deciding vote in late July to kill a GOP push to repeal ObamaCare.