Sen. John McCain weighed in on the staying power of Donald Trump, noting concern from political consultants and big Republican donors that the politically incorrect politician isn’t fading from the scene.
“Obviously he hasn’t,” he remarked, when asked by Breitbart News about the fear within the Republican establishment that Trump would win. McCain made his remarks during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with a group of Washington D.C. reporters.
McCain pointed out that the challenge Trump opponents faced was illustrated in a recent televised Frank Luntz focus group event were he recalled voters saying they didn’t care about Donald Trump’s past views supporting anti-Republican issues like abortion.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like that, certainly in my political lifetime,” he said, marveling that the traditional rules of politics no longer applied.
He admitted that he had disagreements with Trump, but that he had been vocal about them and criticized him for failing to control his supporters for their racist, sexist, and rude remarks.
“You have to repudiate that,” he said. “If you allow those things to be said, or not, in the case of beating up a protestor, and go left unresponded to, then you are complicit.”
McCain argued that all political candidates should “do what’s right … no matter what the cost”
“You have to do what’s right, otherwise you will lose in the long run – even if you win, you lose,” he said.
“Speaking as the loser,” he added wryly with a grin.
McCain also signaled disapproval with Trump’s comments on illegal immigration. “You cannot alienate the Hispanic voter and expect to win a general election,” he said.
If Trump is the nominee, McCain explained, there was a concern that he could hurt some of the Senate races in swing states, endangering the Republican Senate majority. He recalled that although he “loved and admired” Barry Goldwater, he pointed out that Republicans lost political races as a consequence of his nomination.
In spite of his reservations about Trump, McCain signaled that he would support him if he won the Republican nomination.
“I will support the nominee of the Republican party,” he said.