McCain calls Paul, Cruz, Amash ‘wacko birds’

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is continuing to criticize his fellow Republicans for their filibuster of incoming CIA Director John O. Brennan over drone policy. In an interview with the Huffington Post, McCain referred to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) as "wackos."

"They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else," McCain said. "But I also think that when, you know, it's always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone."

Asked to clarify, McCain said he was referencing "Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever."

McCain and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) took strong exception to the filibuster, saying they support the possible use of drones to prevent terrorist attacks anywhere in the world. Some Republicans have privately worried that the high-profile stand, while garnering a lot of positive attention, will ultimately be bad for the party.

"You know, I think he's just on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of this argument, really," Paul responded in a radio interview with former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee Friday afternoon. He said he respected McCain's service and record, but that that experience didn't mean his colleague was always right: "I treat Sen. McCain with respect. I don't think I always get the same in return."

McCain himself was unrepentant, telling Michael Medved Friday that Paul's concerns about a drone attack on U.S. civilians not engaged in violent activity were "ludicrous" and "inappropriate," as well as a waste of time.

"We spent 13 hours talking about a scenario that won't happen and can't happen," McCain said. He subsequently told Fox News that he does think there should be "more congressional oversight" of the drone program, which should be brought under the Department of Defense -- but argued that Paul's filibuster was merely a distraction.

Amash, who has sparred with McCain on Twitter before, replied:

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, on the other hand, thinks the filibuster was "completely awesome."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · March 8, 2013