Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who voted in favor of the GOP plan to repeal parts of Obamacare last month, suggested Tuesday that Sen. John McCain’s deciding vote against the proposal may have been related to his brain cancer.
“I’m not going to speak for John McCain, you know, he has a brain tumor right now, that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said on the radio program “Chicago’s Morning Answer.”
The comments immediately raised eyebrows and prompted some rebukes on Twitter Wednesday after they were first reported by CNN. Julie Tarallo, McCain’s communications director, also criticized Johnson’s comments.
“It is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Senator Johnson would question the judgment of a colleague and friend,” Tarallo said in a statement. “Senator McCain has been very open and clear about the reasons for his vote.”
Johnson issued a statement after the uproar saying that he was “disappointed I didn’t more eloquently express my sympathy for what Sen. McCain is going through.”
“I have nothing but respect for him and the vote came at the end of a long day for everyone,” Johnson said.
In the interview, the radio host asked Johnson to clarify — “Really?” the host asked him, “You really think that that played a factor in his judgment call?” — and Johnson did not recant the comments.
“Again, I-I-I don’t know exactly what — we really thought that — and again I don’t want speak for any senator,” Johnson said. “I really thought John was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night.”
“By about 1, 1:30, he voted no, so you’d have talk to John for what was on his mind,” he continued.
McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor last month and underwent surgery to remove it; he’s now receiving further treatment at home in Arizona.