Durbin praises McCain for 'uncommon decency' as a senator

Durbin praises McCain for 'uncommon decency' as a senator
© Anna Moneymaker

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Ill.) on Sunday praised John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Mark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo MORE for what Durbin called “uncommon decency” during his time as a senator, pointing to moments such as McCain's defense of former President Obama on the campaign trail.

Durbin said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the decency McCain displayed is “unfortunately on short supply in the American political scene.”

Durbin said “very few expected” McCain to defend Obama when he did during the 2008 campaign, referencing the moment McCain shut down a supporter for pushing a racist conspiracy theory about Obama. The supporter said during a town hall event in October 2008 that Obama was “an Arab.”

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“No, ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that just I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

Video of that interaction has gone viral since McCain’s death Saturday.

“Contrast that with what we went through in the ‘lock her up’ chants of the last election,” Durbin said Sunday.

Durbin also pointed to McCain speaking out against white supremacists who rallied last year in Charlottesville, Va., at the “Unite the Right” rally, saying McCain “made it clear he considered them to be cowards.” McCain at the time called on President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE, who blamed both sides for the violence at the rally, to say there’s no “moral equivalency” between white nationalists and counterprotesters.

Durbin also praised McCain for his views on immigration, something Durbin said is “not an easy issue for anybody, certainly not a conservative Republican from Arizona.”

McCain died on Saturday at 81 after a fight with brain cancer. His death has prompted an outpouring of tributes from both Democrats like Durbin and Republicans.