After a hero's welcome, ailing McCain draws fire

Key Points
  • McCain's vote to continue debate on health care Tuesday drew the ire of some who opposed the bill.
  • His vote on Friday spurred criticism from those who supported the bill.
  • McCain returned to Washington, D.C., after disclosing a brain tumor diagnosis last week.
Staff is infighting, undercutting president during difficult health-care vote: Christie Strategies' Ron Christie

After disclosing a brain tumor diagnosis last week, returning to Washington Tuesday to vote for debate on health care and sending a fiery message to his colleagues in government on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain maintained his vice grip on the political spotlight Friday morning by casting the deciding vote against the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

When he revealed his illness, McCain, R-Ariz., was lauded with praise across the political spectrum for his character and sense of principle in carrying out the duties of his office.

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But his vote on Tuesday to push the ball forward for the "skinny repeal" of Obamacare spurred some taboo-breaking commentary on the political left:

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After some late-night legislative drama, the Arizona senator has now come under fire from some on the right.

McCain cast the third Republican vote against the health-care repeal at 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, effectively dooming a bill that had no Democratic support — and leading some conservative commentators to question the intent of the Senator's decision.

"John McCain stabbed his Republican colleagues in the back, and that of the president," Ron Christie, ex-special assistant to former President George W. Bush, said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" Friday.

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"I think it was a disgrace, it was disloyal — and of course, now we're talking about John McCain, the thing that he enjoys the most," Christie said.

Asked whether McCain's vote on Tuesday in favor of debate on the bill weakened his argument, Christie balked.

"It doesn't seem to me that he acted on principle," Christie said of McCain. "He acted, as he always does, as John McCain the maverick, and now the Republican leadership right now has to pick up the pieces of a shattered health-care legislation."

Tony Fratto, President Bush's former deputy press secretary, described the whole effort to repeal Obamacare as futile.

"The idea that there is some landing place on health care that the House and the Senate will be able to agree to eventually, I think is really myth making, and it's better for them to have this over with now than later," Fratto said on "Power Lunch."

"There was never going to be agreement."

Senator Mitch McConnell during a press conference on February 11, 2016.
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Christie and Fratto also discussed the increasingly public infighting among several top officials in the Trump administration.

Newly appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci gave a seething and profanity-laced on-the-record interview to The New Yorker this week, excoriating Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and senior advisor Steve Bannon.

Christie said the backbiting is a damaging distraction for the administration. "I've never seen anything like this from being in politics for 25 years," he said.

Fratto went further, questioning not only Scaramucci's competency in his new role but the credibility of the Trump administration in the eyes of America's allies.

"It does not inspire confidence in our allies," Fratto said.