Joe Biden has issued an extremely strong statement defending his friend Sen. John McCain after a White House official reportedly mocked the Arizona Republican’s brain cancer diagnosis.
The remarks were made Thursday morning, one day after the Republican announced he opposed President Donald Trump‘s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel.
“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” special assistant Kelly Sadler reportedly said during a closed-door meeting at the White House.
The White House did not deny the comments in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, simply stating “We respect Senator McCain’s Service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time.”
On Friday, the former vice president denounced Sadler’s comments as the end of “decency” in an administration that already had that quality in extremely short supply.
“People have wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. It happened yesterday,” Biden said.
“John McCain is a genuine hero — a man of valor whose sacrifices for his country are immeasurable. As he fights for is [sic] life, he deserves better — so much better,” Biden continued.
“Given this White House’s trail of disrespect toward John and others, this staffer is not the exception to the rule; she is the epitome of it. Our children learn from our example. The lingering question is whose example will it be. I am certain it will be John’s.”
Biden’s comments come not long after he visited McCain at the Republican’s Arizona ranch, where the friends on opposite sides of the aisle sat on McCain’s deck and spoke from the heart.
“I wanted to let him know how much I love him and how much he matters to me and how much I admire his integrity and his courage,” Biden told The New York Times after the trip. “I wanted to see my friend.”
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Biden is not the only prominent figure to defend McCain following Sadler’s comments.
In addition to McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, and daughter Meghan strongly coming to his defense, Maria Shriver also echoed Biden about the loss of “decency”
Shriver, a member of the Democratic Kennedy family dynasty, tweeted that “I actually feel bad for us as a country. I feel badly that we have lost our decency. We have forgotten how to respectfully disagree.”
“We have lost our manners, our compassion, our empathy. That’s what I feel bad about,” she later tweeted.
But she ended her missive on a hopeful note: “That said I believe there are more good people than those who make the noise.”