Sen. John McCain praised President Trump for the missile strikes launched against Syria on Thursday, saying the president “has an opportunity to reboot with the American people” after his tumultuous first months in office.
The United States fired at least 50 missiles on a Syrian airfield in retaliation for a suspected sarin gas attack that killed 87 people, including 31 children, earlier this week. The targeted airfield is believed to be the point of origin for that attack.
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Appearing on both MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and NBC’s “Today,” the senator, who has long advocated for military action in Syria — as well as for arming the Syrian rebel army and removing Assad from power — emphasized further action would have to be taken, and warned against any celebratory sentiments in Washington.
“I think there is a little too much euphoria here this morning,” McCain said on “Today.”
Paraphrasing Winston Churchill on “Morning Joe,” he said, “It’s the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.”
McCain has been a frequent Trump critic, including the president’s previous policy towards Syria. Earlier this week, the 2008 Republican nominee said the failure of the U.S. to intervene in Syria marked a “disgraceful chapter in American history.”
But on Friday, McCain repeatedly lauded the White House national security team, emphasizing their role in Trump’s decision to strike.
“The question was, Would the president listen to this team?” McCain said on “Morning Joe.”
“Obviously, he did. That’s what’s most encouraging to me,” he added.
McCain characterized the unfolding situation in Syria a test for the new president, noting that while chemical weapons have only accounted for a small percentage of the deaths in the Syrian civil war, Assad’s use of them is “symbolic.”
While McCain said the decisive action was a chance for Trump to “reboot,” he acknowledged some of the president’s freewheeling behavior was unlikely to change.
“I would love to see the tweeting stop, but I’d also like to see pigs fly,” McCain told the “Morning Joe” panel. “I just think it’s in his DNA. Perhaps there could be more restraint. I would hope that would happen.”