Romney: Those who mock McCain 'humiliate themselves'

Senate candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt Romney The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration 2020 is not a family affair, for a change MORE (R) said Saturday that those who mock Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Biden's debate performance renews questions of health At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR MORE's (R) failing health "humiliate themselves."

His comments follow The Hill's report that White House special assistant Kelly Sadler mocked McCain's cancer diagnosis during a meeting with communication staffers Thursday morning.

"John McCain makes America great. Father, grandfather, Navy pilot, POW hero bound by honor, an incomparable and irrepressible statesman. Those who mock such greatness only humiliate themselves and their silent accomplices," Romney wrote.

Sadler reportedly made the comments Thursday in reference to McCain's letter to colleagues urging them to reject Trump's nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA. The Arizona senator was diagnosed with brain cancer last year.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” Sadler said, according to a source familiar with the remarks at the meeting. The White House would not confirm or deny the remarks during a Friday press briefing with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who declined to comment on closed-door meetings.

The reported remarks sparked fury on Capitol Hill and in the media, where lawmakers from both sides of the aisle demanded apologies from Sadler and the White House.

Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLet's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy The Memo: Democrats struggle to find the strongest swing-state candidate 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster MORE, who also served in the Navy remarked that he and McCain learned some "four letter" words while serving that could be applied to McCain's critics.

"Actually Jeff, you’re too kind," Kerry wrote after Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) tweeted that "there are no words" in response to the Sadler report.

"There are words - four letter ones. If @SenJohnMcCain and I didn’t know how to use them before the Navy, we became fluent in them then. And they all apply to anyone who would say anything like that about John or any family battling cancer."

In a statement to The Hill, the White House said that it respects the ailing senator's service to the country.

“We respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time,” the White House said.