During a Q&A hosted by the Washington Post, House Speaker Paul Ryan positioned Mitt Romney as John McCain’s moral successor.
In one of the last interviews Ryan will have given as House Speaker, he praised his long-time friend, former running mate, and Utah senator-elect. “It’s great that he’s coming,” Ryan said. “Mitt believes there’s a role for him … as a standard-bearer for our party.”
McCain was a maverick GOP element in public perception, often resisting his own party’s majority stance on key issues as a matter of principle. Before his death, McCain famously voted against the repeal-and-replace Republican health care bill that would have crippled Obamacare, drawing Trump’s ire.
The animosity between the two culminated in Trump being asked not to attend McCain’s funeral after he died of brain cancer, apparently in alignment with the late senator’s wishes. Romney is a similarly resistant conservative figure, most recently calling out President Donald Trump for his skirmishes with the “fake news” media.
In the same Q&A, Ryan broke with many members of his party in true McCain fashion, saying the United States should not withdraw their military support for Saudi Arabia in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Instead, he believes this administration should follow the Magnitsky Act and its sanctions for human rights violators.
Ryan also publicly disagreed with Trump’s position that sanctions leveled against Saudi Arabia would jeopardize our military interests in the region. “There’s a time for realpolitik, but only if your foreign policy speaks with moral clarity to begin with,” Ryan said.