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Graham: Trump's attacks on McCain 'hurt him more' than senator's legacy

Graham: Trump's attacks on McCain 'hurt him more' than senator's legacy
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPortman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular' Overnight Defense: Biden sends message with Syria airstrike | US intel points to Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi killing | Pentagon launches civilian-led sexual assault commission Graham: Trump will 'be helpful' to all Senate GOP incumbents MORE (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE's attacks against the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain planning 'intimate memoir' of life with John McCain Trump-McConnell rift divides GOP donors Arkansas state senator says he's leaving Republican Party MORE (R-Ariz.) "hurt [Trump] more than they hurt the legacy of Sen. McCain."

"I think the president’s comments about Sen. McCain hurt him more than they hurt the legacy of Sen. McCain. I’m going to try to continue to help the president," he told reporters in South Carolina.

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Graham is an ally of Trump who also was close friends with McCain. He said Wednesday that he likes the president but doesn't like "when he says things" about his former GOP Senate colleague, who died last year after a battle with brain cancer.

"My job is to represent the people of South Carolina. They want me to work with the president where I can. I’ve gotten to know the president. We have a good working relationship. I like him," Graham said.

"I don’t like when he says things about my friend John McCain. The best thing that can happen, I think, for all of us is to move forward," he added. 

Graham's comments came shortly before Trump unleashed fresh criticism of McCain during a speech in Ohio on Wednesday afternoon. Trump, who long feuded with McCain, has renewed his criticism of the former GOP senator in recent days.

"Not my kind of guy," Trump told the crowd in Ohio. "But some people like him, and I think that’s great."

Trump spent several minutes attacking McCain during his speech, criticizing him for sharing with authorities a dossier that detailed alleged links between Trump and Russia, voting against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and supporting the Iraq War.

"I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve. I don’t care about this. I didn't get 'thank you.' That's OK," Trump said. 

"We sent him on the way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain."

The remarks came after Trump went after McCain on Twitter over the weekend and said Tuesday that he "was never a fan of John McCain" and "never will be."