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McCain Continues Vow To Support Trump

Jude Joffe-Block/KJZZ
file | staff
Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain.

In an April recording released Thursday morning by Politico, Arizona Sen. John McCain is heard saying that Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket will make his own Senate re-election campaign more difficult because of Trump’s remarks that have offended Hispanics.

Still, at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon hours later, McCain stuck with his longtime position that he will support the Republican nominee — and would therefore support Trump.

“I will support the nominee of the party, both Jeff and I have said that all along,” McCain said, referring to Sen. Jeff Flake, who joined him on stage. “There is no doubt significant disagreements that I have with Mr. Trump. I will do everything I can to convince him on national security issues that he needs to do differently than he planned.”

McCain received heat from Democratic challenger Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick months ago for saying he would support Trump if Trump became the Republican nominee. Kirkpatrick made an attack ad piecing together Trump’s most controversial statements with McCain continuing to say he would endorse whoever won the Republican nomination.

At Thursday’s lunch, McCain said he did not believe the country could stand four more years of President Barack Obama’s national security policies, which is what he said he expects from Hillary Clinton. 

When it was Flake’s turn to weigh in, he struck a different tone.

“Donald Trump wasn’t my first choice,” Flake said. “He wasn’t my 17th choice.”

Flake stopped short of saying he would support Trump, despite McCain’s remark that both senators would.

“It will be very difficult for me to support Donald Trump if he doesn’t back down from some of the statements he made,” Flake said.

Flake named some of those statements as “applying a religious test for people to enter the country” and “reworking the First Amendment to go after folks, journalists who print unkind things about you.”
Also on Thursday, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan said he would not endorse Trump.

Earlier in the lunch McCain seemed to make a joke about Trump when he brought up the presidential election.

“It’s huge — we are going to make America great again, so don’t worry about anything,” McCain said. “It is going to be huge!”

Both Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced they would endorse McCain in his Senate race at the beginning of the lunch.

In the recording released by Politico Thursday morning, McCain is heard speaking at an Arizona fundraiser in early April saying his re-election campaign “may be the race of my life” if Trump is at the top of the ticket.

In those same remarks, McCain mentioned Arizona’s high portion of Latino voters.

“The first wedge that Donald Trump had that gave him notoriety — build the wall, rapists, murderers,” McCain said referring to Trump’s controversial statements on Mexican border crossers.

“The Hispanic community is aroused and angry in a way that I have never seen,” McCain said. “So this is going to be a tough campaign for me.”

Jude Joffe-Block Senior Field Correspondent, Fronteras Desk - Phoenix KJZZ Senior Field Correspondent Jude Joffe-Block got hooked on radio while working as an assitant to a radio reporter in Mexico, and has been happiest wearing headphones and pointing microphones ever since. Joffe-Block began serving KJZZ in October 2010 as a Fronteras: Changing America Senior Field Correspondent based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. She joined the Phoenix newsroom in July 2012. Before joining the Fronteras Desk, she contributed stories on immigration and criminal justice to KALW in San Francisco and multimedia content in both Spanish and English to The Associated Press in Mexico. She is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Yale University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico.