A White House staffer's reported joke about Sen. John McCain "dying" has been roundly condemned in the 24 hours since the first reports about it surfaced. But former Vice President Joe Biden has one of the most powerful responses to the crass comment yet. In a statement released Friday, Biden said Trump aide Kelly Sadler mocking McCain was the Trump administration hitting "rock bottom" in terms of decency.
"People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration," Biden said in his statement. "It happened yesterday."
The former vice president went on to praise McCain's service record. "John McCain is a genuine hero — a man of valor whose sacrifices for this country are immeasurable," Biden said in his statement. "As he fights for his life, he deserves better — so much better."
Biden also pushed back on arguments that Sadler's supposed joke wasn't representative of the Trump administration. "Given this White House's trail of disrespect toward John and others, this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it," he said. "Our children learn from our example. The lingering question is whose example will it be. I am certain it will be John's."
Sadler, a White House aide, reportedly responded to McCain's vocal opposition to President Donald Trump's CIA director nominee by saying of the Arizona senator, "he's dying anyway," CNN reported. When asked about Sadler's reported comment, a White House official told the cable news network that White House staff "respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."
McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer last year following a surgery to remove a blood clot. Beau Biden, the late son of former Vice President Biden, died in 2015 from the same type of brain cancer McCain has been diagnosed with, according to CNN.
Although Biden didn't elaborate on what he meant by "the White House's trail of disrespect toward" McCain, President Trump has previously questioned and disparaged McCain's service record in the armed forces. "He's not a war hero," Trump once said of McCain's service in the Vietnam War. "He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured, OK?"
And while out on the campaign trail in 2015, Trump once told a crowd in Phoenix, Arizona, that "we have incompetent politicians, not only the president, I mean, right here, in your own state, you have John McCain." McCain's relationship with Trump has remained rocky since the former real estate mogul and reality TV star took office.
But Biden isn't the only one to have respond to Sadler's supposed joke. McCain's daughter Meghan McCain also condemned the White House for attempting to dismiss Sadler's remark as a joke. "I don't understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable, and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job," McCain said Friday on The View.
McCain added that her father was "doing really well right now" before addressing Sadler directly. "Kelly, here's a little newsflash — and this may be a bit intense for 11 o'clock in the morning on a Friday — but we're all dying. I'm dying, you're dying, we're all dying," she said. "I really feel like I understand the meaning of life, and it is not how you die. It is how you live."
McCain's wife, Cindy McCain, also responded to Sadler. "May I remind you my husband has a family, 7 children, and 5 grandchildren," she wrote in a tweet addressed to Sadler on Thursday.