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In Speech, John McCain Decries "Half-Baked Spurious Nationalism"

The senator warned against "refusing the obligations of international leadership" and made reference to a Nazi slogan.

Posted on October 17, 2017, at 8:57 a.m. ET

William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

In remarks Monday, Republican Senator John McCain implicitly excoriated President Trump's administration and supporters, saying that "to refuse the obligations of international leadership ... for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism ... is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past."

He added, "We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil."

"Blood and soil," a 19th-century German Nazi slogan, was among the chants used by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a white nationalist demonstration in August, in which one counterprotester was killed when a demonstrator ran his car into the crowd.

McCain made the comments as part of an acceptance speech for the 2017 Liberty Medal, which he received for 60 years of public service, from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Several of the other speakers at the event, including former Vice President Joe Biden, spoke of the need for bipartisanship.

Said the senator, who also serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

"To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain 'the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history."

McCain was elected to Congress in 1982 and has served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In July, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer.

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