Colorado leaders — but not all — show respect for McCain after diagnosis

Author: Joey Bunch - July 20, 2017 - Updated: July 21, 2017

John McCain
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington last week for the committee’s confirmation hearing for Navy Secretary nominee Richard Spencer. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Colorado’s congressional members reacted to the news of Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis with the support and deep respect for the statesman and American hero from neighboring Arizona.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver worked closely with McCain in 2013 as members of the Gang of Eight that passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill out of the Senate, only to see it languish and die in the House.

McCain, 80, has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. He has served in the U.S. Senate since 1987, and he twice ran for president. He was the GOP nominee in 2008 and is a decorated Vietnam war hero. After his bomber was shot down over Hanoi in 1967, he was tortured and spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war.

Early in his campaign, President Trump questioned whether McCain was a hero, because he was captured. McCain ultimately was not a Trump supporter and has been critical of Trump in regards to Russia, just last week predicting “more bombshells.” The president, ubiquitous on Twitter, didn’t tweet about McCain Wednesday. During an address about his Made in America Week at the White House, the president wished McCain well and spoke of how badly Republicans, with only a two-seat majority in the Senate, needs his vote.

“And I can tell you, we hope John McCain gets better very soon,” the president said. “Because we miss him. He is a crusty voice in Washington,” Trump said. “Plus, we need his vote.”

Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma and Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora spoke of McCain as a mentor and friend.

“This is tough because I’ve had a very personal connection to Senator McCain and I’ve always looked up to him for his courageous service during Vietnam,” said Coffman, himself a combat veteran of both Iraq wars. “I will keep him and his family in my thoughts and prayers as he undergoes treatment.”

Gardner said, “Not only is John McCain an American hero but he is also an amazing friend, father, husband, and son. I will be thinking of him every day as he fights this latest battle, and I look forward to seeing him soon in a place where he has done tremendous things for his country and his constituents – the United States Senate.”

Former state lawmaker Shawn Mitchell, a staunch conservative from Broomfield who served 14 years in the General Assembly, didn’t mince his negative words in the wake of the news.

“Am I bad I don’t feel sad about McCain’s brain cancer?” Mitchell wrote on Facebook Wednesday night. “I don’t wish him a short or painful life. He’s had a long one. I just think his constructive, helpful life ended long ago. He is a smug, self righteous condemnor of political opponents. No, only Republican political opponents. He is always respectful to Democrats.”

“I won’t speak ill of the dead for a respectable time. But for now, he’s just a powerful enemy who is not supposed to be an enemy.”

Mike Littwin, a columnist for the Colorado Independent and the senior statesman of Colorado journalism, replied to Mitchell. “Imagine being the person who feels the need to write this post.”

In a subsequent post Mitchell said he won’t be sad when McCain’s gone.

Independent political consultant Eric Sondermann asked Mitchell to tone down the toxicity for “empathy, civility and humanity.”

“You’re better than this post, Shawn,” Sondermann began.

Last month Mitchell told Colorado Politics he was kidding about a post in which he talked about beheading journalists and Trump administration leakers.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.

One comment

  • Tannim

    July 20, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Songbird is no hero, he’s a traitor.

    The Forrestal Firebug.

    The Butcher of Black Mesa.

    Keating Five.


    Those are Panama John MCain.

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