Even by today's hyper-partisan, anything-goes standard in politics, the crass comment attributed to a White House aide about Sen. John McCain's health condition seemed to jolt the nation's sensibilities.
Kelly Sadler, a White House special assistant, reportedly made the snide remark during a Thursday meeting with communications staffers when talking about McCain's opposition to President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel. McCain was troubled by Haspel's refusal to say that torture is immoral during a Senate committee hearing.
Sadler reportedly said the view of McCain — a six-term senator, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and former prisoner of war — was immaterial because "he's dying anyway."
McCain is 81. He has brain cancer.
Meghan McCain: Meghan McCain wonders how White House staffer who mocked her dad can 'still have a job'
The White House later commended McCain's service to his country, but refused to address the aide's comment when pressed Friday.
President Trump did not comment on the controversy created by his staffer, nor did Vice President Mike Pence, who last week in Tempe asked hundreds gathered at a pro-Donald Trump rally to keep McCain in their thoughts and prayers.
Top political figures from Arizona largely remained silent, including: Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey; former Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who remains a political player in Arizona and beyond; Arizona Republican Party chairman Jonathan Lines; and Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, Martha McSally and David Schweikert.
Likewise, Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, Rep. Tom O'Halleran and Kyrsten Sinema have issued no public statements.
Plenty of others condemned the remark, including those closest to him: his wife, Cindy, and daughter, Meghan.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
The Democrat and close friend of the senator said he deserves better. Biden lost his son Beau to glioblastoma, the same deadly form of brain cancer that struck McCain.
"John McCain is a genuine hero — a man of valor whose sacrifices for his country are immeasurable," Biden's statement to NBC said. "As he fights for his life, he deserves better —so much better.
"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."
Biden was in town recently to visit the senator and Cindy at their home near Sedona.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona
"There are no words," the junior senator and McCain colleague posted on Twitter Friday.
The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee replied to Flake's tweet. "Actually Jeff, you’re too kind. There are words - four letter ones," Kerry wrote. "... And they all apply to anyone who would say anything like that about John or any family battling cancer."
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
On Twitter, she encouraged Americans to think hard about McCain's sacrifice to the country.
In 1967, while flying a mission over North Vietnam, his plane was shot down. McCain was captured and endured 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. He was pummeled, his bones were repeatedly broken. He was interrogated. He was held in isolated captivity and repeatedly refused early release in favor of adhering to a military code that allows earlier captives to be freed first.
Ernst, who serves with McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee, tweeted that McCain should be treated as a "war hero" and his family deserves "civility and respect." m
Ohio Gov. John Kasich
In a video message posted on Twitter, the 2016 GOP rival of Trump demanded that the White House apologize for the "outrageous and totally out-of-line" comment about "American hero" McCain.
"God bless John McCain, and for what he's meant for our country, and what he has meant to all of us," Kasich said.
A Democrat who unsuccessfully ran in Arizona's 8th Congressional District race during a March special election — and has vowed another run for the seat — tweeted a line from Biden's statement and added her own commentary.
"'As he (Sen. McCain) fights for his life, he deserves better - so much better.' What else can be said? #BeBest," tweeted Tipirneni, using the hashtag for First Lady Melania Trump's anti-bullying initiative.