In an interview with CNN's S.E. Cupp, Ryan said, "Look, John McCain's a hero. No two ways about it. John McCain, I mean, he gave his entire adult life for this country. John McCain fought for us in Vietnam, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, came home and dedicated his life to public service."
The full interview will air Monday at 5 p.m. ET on "SE Cupp Unfiltered" on HLN.
Ryan's remarks come in the wake of news that a White House aide mocked
McCain's health, saying "he's dying anyway" in response to the senator's opposition to President Donald Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel.
When Cupp asked Ryan what he would like to say to McCain, his family and Republicans, the House speaker spoke highly of the Arizona senator, describing him as selfless in his service to the country and calling his legacy "long"
"His vocation in life was making life better for people and better for the country," said Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. "There are so many accolades I could heap on John McCain. But I know John very well. John McCain helped us save our military. He was so passionate about this ... John McCain made sure we reinvested in our military, fixed our Veterans Affairs problems. His legacy is so long that John McCain is a hero to us and ... all of our thoughts and prayers are with John and his family right now at this time."
McCain is at home in Arizona as he undergoes treatment after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer last year. The senator issued a statement
Wednesday calling Haspel a "patriot," but saying "her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying."
McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, reacted
to the White House aide's mocking remarks on Friday on "The View," saying she doesn't "understand what kind of environment you're working in when that would be acceptable and then you can come to work the next day and still have a job."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment later Friday on Sadler's remark, saying, "I'm not going to comment on an internal staff meeting."
A White House official told CNN on Thursday, "We respect Senator McCain's service to our nation, and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."
Sadler called Meghan McCain on Thursday to apologize for the remark, a source close to the situation told CNN, although it's unclear what McCain's response was.
On Thursday, a guest on Fox Business Network also took aim
at the senator, claiming that torture "worked on" him when he was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. "That's why they call him 'Songbird John,' retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said.
Meghan McCain called that a "real ugly nickname" on Friday. Coming to her father's defense, she said his "legacy is going to be talked about hundreds and hundreds of years."