1 of 3
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FILE - Sen. Mitt Romney talks with local officials prior to touring federal lands in Emery County on Feb 23, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney chastised President Donald Trump on Tuesday for the latest denigrating remarks he made about the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.

"I can’t understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country, and God," the Utah Republican tweeted.

During an Oval Office meeting with Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday, Trump was asked about his recent tweets about McCain. The president responded that he's "very unhappy" that McCain voted against repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

Evan Vucci, Associated Press
FILE - President Donald Trump meets with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, in Washington.

"I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be,” Trump told reporters.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, Trump hit McCain for his handling of a dossier compiled by a former British spy on Trump's relationship with Russia leading up to the 2016 election.

"So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) 'last in his class' (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election," Trump tweeted on Sunday. "He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!"

Romney posted a nearly 500-word essay about his one-time political rival on his Senate campaign website after McCain died last August.

"No person this century better exemplifies the great qualities of patriotism than John McCain," he wrote.

"Ones like him don’t come along very often," wrote Romney, who lost the 2008 GOP presidential nomination to McCain. "He is a hero. He is a friend."

Romney has a history of criticizing Trump, and vowed to call him out when the he makes comments the senator finds distasteful.

On the day before he took office in January, Romney expressed his disappointment in Trump's leadership

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
FILE -In this photo from Monday, May 6, 2013, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., laughs as he and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, cross paths in the Russell Senate Office Building, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

"But, on balance, (Trump’s) conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions (in December), is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” Romney wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Romney said he didn't intend to comment on Trump's every tweet or fault, but said he would speak out against "significant" statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

174 comments on this story

Trump responded to Romney's op-ed, tweeting, "Here we go with Mitt Romney, but so fast! Question will be, is he a Flake? I hope not. Would much prefer that Mitt focus on Border Security and so many other things where he can be helpful. I won big, and he didn’t. He should be happy for all Republicans. Be a TEAM player & WIN!"

Romney has blasted Trump before. During the 2016 presidential campaign he called then-candidate Trump a "phony" and "fraud" in a scathing speech at the University of Utah. During his Senate campaign, he called out the president’s temperament and character.