McCain calls Lindsey Graham his 'illegitimate son'

McCain calls Lindsey Graham his 'illegitimate son'
© Greg Nash

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era Earth Day founder's daughter: Most Republican leaders believe in climate change in private MORE said Wednesday he has an illegitimate son.  

That illegitimate son is 59-year-old Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamIf you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again Graham challenges Dems to walk the walk on impeachment Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars MORE (R-S.C.), the Arizona Republican senator said at a defense conference in Washington. 

Though it is not the first time McCain, 78, has made that joke, it drew chuckles from the crowd. 

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Journalist and author Tom Ricks, who was moderating a panel discussion with McCain at the New America Foundation Future of War conference, asked the senator, "Is there anybody else in Congress interested in defense issues besides you?"  

McCain replied, "Lindsey Graham, of course!" 

"Well, that's your 'mini-me,' " Ricks said. 

"My illegitimate son, Lindsey Graham," McCain said, prompting laughter.

Graham, an Air Force Reserve colonel, is a senior member of the Senate Armed Service Committee that McCain chairs. 

The two are good friends and are both defense hawks whose foreign policy views closely align. They also, along with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), call themselves the "Three Amigos." 

McCain also called Graham his illegitimate son last month when the Three Amigos unveiled legislation with Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to restrict detainee transfers from Guantánamo Bay. 

A reporter asked McCain what he thought about Mitt Romney, who was then considering another presidential run in 2016.  

"My illegitimate son Lindsey Graham is exploring that option," McCain said. "So I am strongly encouraging Sen. Lindsey Graham, particularly with the world the way it is today. No one understands the world today in the way that Lindsey Graham does, in my view." 

-- Updated 2/26/15 at 6:36 p.m. ET