President Biden claimed Thursday that he’s “never said a negative thing” about the late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, despite once disparaging him as a “sidekick” and an “angry man.”
Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 Americans on Thursday, including McCain, who died from brain cancer in 2018. His widow, Cindy McCain, accepted the honor on his behalf.
“I will admit to my Democratic friends I’m the guy who encouraged John to go home and run for office, for real, because I knew what incredible courage, intellect and conscience he had,” Biden said. “We ran against each other, which I didn’t like, on tickets for the highest office in the land. I was a candidate for vice president, he was the candidate for president. I never stopped admiring John. Never said a negative thing about him in my life, because I knew his honor, his courage, and his commitment.”
Despite his claims, Biden said plenty of negative things about McCain during the 2008 election when McCain was running for president as the Republican nominee and Biden was running as Barack Obama’s vice president.
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“You can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve ever been is a sidekick,” Biden said of McCain during a Florida speech a month before McCain’s November 2008 defeat.
“What a majority of American people are looking for — a steady hand, leadership, an optimist; not an angry man, lurching from one position to another,” Biden also said at the time.
Weeks earlier, Biden suggested McCain, a former Vietnam POW and Navy pilot, was cowardly after asking during a New Mexico speech, “Who is the real Barack Obama?”
“In my neighborhood where I came from if you got something to say to a man, look him in the eye and say it,” Biden responded.
The Biden and McCain families had a longtime friendship that deteriorated in 2008 but then reconciled ahead of the 2020 presidential election, when Cindy McCain crossed parties and endorsed Biden over then-president Donald Trump.
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.