By Conor White and Kate Gill
After Senator John McCain died from cancer this past weekend, many in Washington are at a loss, said Washington Examiner columnist Phil Wegmann.
"Senators are looking around and thinking, 'This is a huge void we have to fill,'" Wegmann said Monday in an interview on Cheddar.
Since the Republican Senator's death, support for his principled, bipartisan approach has been near-universal. And Wegmann doesn't think McCain's passing will stop him from shaping policy, if only symbolically.
"One thing that I think he will be remembered for is the way he pushed back on the current route of the Republican party," Wegmann said.
"That continues today even in his death, as you see Donald Trump in the White House refusing to lower the flags at the presidential residence to half-mast, and I think that is very emblematic of the back and forth between these two men."
Trump also incited backlash for reportedly refusing to call McCain a hero in his official statement about the Senator's death ー though a release drafted by his team included that sentiment. McCain was held captive during the Vietnam War while serving in the U.S. Navy, and during the presidential campaign in 2015, Trump infamously dismissed the incident, saying, "He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured." Trump finally reversed his stance in a new statement Monday evening, writing, “Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country.”
Now the question of the Arizona Senator's seat remains. It's unclear, Wegmann said, if the state's Governor Anthony Ducey will stay the McCain course of bipartisanship or appoint a staunch conservative.
"Should Ducey appoint someone who is more in the pro-President Trump mold, someone who is going to be a loyal foot soldier?" Wegmann asked. "Or is he going to try and find someone with the same sort of 'Maverick' sensibilities that McCain was famous for?"
McCain was among few Republicans willing to criticize Trump. His absence may mean less opposition for Trump in the Senate, Wegmann said.
"Think about all the conservative all-stars of the past ー guys like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee ー even they're hesitant to call out the president, so I think there's going to be a lot less criticism of the president from his right flank coming out of the Senate."
For full interview, click here.