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Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News Trump's attacks on McConnell seen as prelude to 2024 White House bid MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday panned the idea of favoring Christian refugees from Syria over Muslims, delivering a rebuttal to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo On The Money — Biden stresses calm amid omicron fears MORE (R-Texas), a GOP presidential candidate.
McCain said using a religious test on Syrian refugees, especially children, makes no sense.
“I don’t think any child, whether they are Christian or whether they are atheist or whether they are Buddhist, that we should make a distinction,” McCain said. “My belief is that all children are God’s children.”
It’s a rare example of McCain siding with President Obama, who defeated him in the 2008 presidential election, on a hot-button political topic.
Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush over the weekend said efforts to resettle refugees from Syria should focus on Christians.
"There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz said at a Sunday event in South Carolina, according to The Washington Post. “If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation."
Bush on Sunday told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the U.S. “should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees with the Christians that are being slaughtered.”
McCain’s comments Tuesday backed up Obama, who earlier this week called a religious test “shameful” and “not American.”
Bush, however, softened his stance in an interview with Bloomberg Politics on Tuesday.
“The answer to this is not to ban people from coming. The answer is to lead, to resolve the problem in Syria,” he said.
Noting public worries over the vetting of refugees, he said, “If there’s any kind of concern, we shouldn’t allow people in.
“But I don’t think we should eliminate our support for refugees,” he added.
McCain said Tuesday “there should be no litmus test” for the religious affiliation of refugees as long as they are vetted and determined not to pose a threat.
“Are we going to differentiate children by their religion? I don’t think so,” he said.
McCain blamed what he called Obama’s “failed, feckless” policy in Syria for the violence that has sent hundreds of thousands of migrants flooding into Europe.
“The decisions by the president of the United States, the commander in chief, have put us into this position where we’re fighting over refugees,” he said.