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Late US Senator John McCain gets the last word, with a parting shot at Donald Trump in final message

McCain denounces ‘tribal rivalries’ and hiding ‘behind walls’ in his farewell message to the nation delivered posthumously on Monday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 4:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 9:44am

Late US Senator John McCain took a final swipe at President Donald Trump in his farewell message to the nation, which was delivered posthumously on Monday, denouncing “tribal rivalries” as an aide confirmed that the president would not attend the Republican lawmaker’s funeral.

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe,” McCain said in the statement, which was read out by his former campaign manager, Rick Davis.

“We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been,” he added – apparently a reference to Trump’s plans for a border wall.

Read John McCain’s deathbed statement in full

“I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil,” the former prisoner of war, two-time Republican presidential candidate and titan of US politics said.

We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil
John McCain, late US senator

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,” he said, adding that the country “will get through these challenging times”.

That appeared to be a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

The message came as Trump found himself mired in controversy over his rather conspicuous failure to pay tribute to McCain, who died on Saturday at 81 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Under fire for what critics said was a lack of respect for McCain, Trump issued a formal proclamation about his death and ordered the White House flag back to half-staff.

Trump rejected plans for statement praising McCain, then played golf

“Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment,” Trump said in a statement.

McCain’s death has left many American mourning the loss of a national hero who repeatedly challenged the status quo and consistently sought bipartisan solutions to the country’s problems.

The long-time senator clashed repeatedly with Trump despite being from the same party, and the president – who in 2016 famously dismissed McCain as “not a war hero” – has paid scant tribute to the senator in the wake of his death.

With bad blood between them at the boil, McCain reportedly excluded Trump from his funeral ceremonies – a development that Davis confirmed on Monday.

“The president will not be, as far as we know, attending the funeral. That’s just a fact,” Davis told a press briefing in Arizona.

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The two men who defeated McCain in his White House campaigns, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, are expected to deliver eulogies at a Saturday service at the National Cathedral in Washington, a day after McCain’s body lies in state in the US Capitol.

McCain will be buried on Sunday at the US Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis, Maryland, in a private service.