'America was always great': Meghan McCain delivered a fiery rebuke of Trump in an emotional eulogy at her father's funeral

Screenshot via ABCMeghan McCain.
  • Meghan McCain delivered an emotional and fiery eulogy at a memorial service for her father, the late Sen. John McCain.
  • “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness – the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly,” the younger McCain said at one point, in an apparent rebuke of President Donald Trump.
  • Three former presidents attended McCain’s funeral, but Trump was reportedly asked not to attend.

Meghan McCain delivered an emotional and moving eulogy Saturday at a memorial service for her father, the late Sen. John McCain.

In the first remarks of the ceremony, McCain spoke of her father as a sailor, husband, warrior, prisoner, hero, congressman, senator, presidential nominee, and a “great man” who set an example as an American leader.

She also did not hesitate to reference the controversial comments President Donald Trump had made about her father in the past, though she never mentioned Trump by name.

“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness,” McCain said. “The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who live lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”

McCain described her father’s wishes for the country as evident through his two decades of service in the US Navy and three decades in Congress serving people from all backgrounds and promoting American values.

“The America of John McCain is, yes, the America of Vietnam, fighting the fight, even in the most grim circumstances, even in the most distant, hostile corner of the world, standing for the life and liberty of other peoples in other lands,” McCain said.

She continued: “The America of John McCain is generous and welcoming and bold. She’s resourceful, confident, secure. She meets her responsibilities. She speaks quietly because she’s strong. America does not boast because she has no need to.”

In describing her father’s love and devotion to his country, McCain invoked Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” to hit back at the president.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” McCain said.

The New York Times reported in May that Trump would not be invited to McCain’s funeral, in accordance with the senator’s wishes. Two White House officials later confirmed to The Associated Press that the president was asked not to attend.

Trump sparked widespread controversy when he mocked McCain’s military service during the 2016 campaign.

“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

McCain served in the US Navy for 22 years and spent over five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The senator, 81, was a part of many of the past three decades’ most significant political moments. He was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee in a contest he lost to President Barack Obama. He also sought the presidency in 2000, mounting a primary campaign against President George W. Bush.

McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2017.

Meghan, a prominent conservative pundit and cohost of ABC’s “The View,” is the most famous among his children and has been outspoken about the challenges of her family’s struggle with the diagnosis.

During a December episode of the talk show, former Vice President Joe Biden, who was close friends with the late senator, consoled her and said that if “anybody” could overcome that cancer, it was her father.

John McCain is survived by his 106-year-old mother Roberta, seven children, and his second wife, Cindy, whom he married in 1980 following a 15-year marriage to Carol Shepp.

McCain’s service on Saturday included remarks from Washington heavyweights including former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were also in attendance, as was former vice president Al Gore and several of McCain’s Senate colleagues and members of the House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle.

McCain’s memorial service also featured the late senator’s favourite hymns: “America the Beautiful,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Amazing Grace.” The Cathedral Choir, the United States Naval Academy Glee Club and the United States Navy Band Brass Ensemble performed as well.

Eliza Relman contributed reporting.

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