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Cindy McCain endorses Biden
She cites the Democrat’s ‘honor and integrity’
Praising Joe Biden as a longtime family friend and an ally to military families such as hers, Cindy McCain, the woman Republicans wanted to make first lady in 2008, endorsed the Democratic presidential nominee Tuesday, a few weeks before Arizonans will begin voting.
President Donald Trump had a stormy rivalry with her husband, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that lingered even after McCain’s death in 2018. Anonymous sources claimed to The Atlantic that Trump ridiculed McCain and others in the military.
Cindy McCain told The Arizona Republic in an interview Tuesday that her endorsement is in part attributable to the character she sees in Biden, who, like her, is a parent to members of the U.S. military.
The decision, she said, was not about honoring her husband’s legacy. This was about her.
“I’m like everybody else: I like a good leader, and I feel like right now, the president doesn’t have my back, he doesn’t take a stand on things that are really important, and we have a time of crisis,” McCain said. “I’m worried that this could go further than it should. My point in getting on board with Joe is that he’s proven – he’s been there. I’ve known him for 40 years. I know his character and his leadership and his honor and his integrity, and those things are very important to me.”
McCain said she will remain a registered Republican. She said Biden practices the kind of bipartisan politics her husband did: “Joe shares our values and our concerns, and he cares about us. I’m a mother, I’m a business owner, I’m the mother of two military men, and I want someone that understands me and understands what’s going on and knows what it takes to really make the tough decisions.”
She said Biden did not ask for her endorsement but was “excited” when she told him a few weeks ago.
“It had nothing to do with John McCain at all; it had everything to do with how I felt and how I’m feeling, especially during these tough times,” she said, noting Biden’s respect for the military.
“That’s really important to my family,” she said. “Our members of the military are not losers. They’re not losers. You call one a loser, you call all the members of the military losers, including my son.”
Biden leads in national polls and more narrowly in Arizona, which is likely to be a critical battleground for the White House.
Biden announced the endorsement earlier in the day, saying she backed him because of The Atlantic’s article.
“Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but I’m about to go on one of these Zooms with John McCain’s wife, who is, first time ever, is endorsing me because of what he talks about with my son and John’s who are heroes, who served their country. You know, he said they’re losers, they’re suckers,” Biden said Tuesday at a fundraiser. Trump denied the allegations in the article.
McCain largely avoided the disputes between Trump and her husband. Throughout her public life, she has advocated for less-partisan causes, such as ending human trafficking and aid to developing countries.
McCain could help Democrats reach undecided independent voters and Republicans uneasy with Trump, the kind who supported John McCain for more than three decades.
McCain said she hopes her endorsement gives voters the courage to cross party lines, particularly women.
“It is OK to look outside the box, it is OK to cross a party line and vote for someone else that’s perhaps not of your party but is perhaps a better candidate,” she said. “I hope I have an impact, I hope what I’m doing is important and I just hope that Joe wins.”
McCain appeared in a video played during the Democratic National Convention last month that paid tribute to her husband and the long friendship he and Biden maintained in Washington. That video, overlaid with photos and footage of the two men, sought to remind America that bipartisanship and collegiality are possible in politics. It stopped short of an endorsement of Biden.
The McCain-Biden friendship extended to their home life: The families celebrated milestones, hosted get-togethers and, at the end of John’s life at the McCains’ home in Cornville, Arizona, reflected on their adventures.
McCain joins more than 100 former staffers and campaign workers of her late husband to endorse Biden.
McCain, along with her daughter, TV commentator Meghan McCain, have been outspoken critics against Trump, whose feud with the senator dated to 2015, when Trump launched his first presidential bid. These days, the McCain women tend to speak out against Trump only when he re-airs his grievances.
Cindy McCain did not weigh in on Arizona’s U.S. Senate special election, in which two well-funded candidates vie to fill the remainder of her late husband’s term.
Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who lost her 2018 race for the state’s other Senate seat, faces an aggressive challenge by Democratic candidate Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
McCain told The Republic she would not get involved in Arizona politics this cycle.