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Arizona Sen. John McCain: Hillary Clinton Presidency Is 'A Worse Outcome Than Anything That I Could Imagine'

Published: Friday, August 5, 2016 - 4:10pm
Updated: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 1:33pm
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Lauren Loftus/KJZZ
John McCain in KJZZ's studio in 2016.

It’s been one of the more bizarre weeks in the history of political campaigns with Donald Trump sinking in the polls after making a series of controversial comments.

Right in the middle of it all has been Arizona Sen. John McCain, who reiterated his support for the Republican nominee, despite Trump’s failure to endorse his re-election and his previous comments saying McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was caught and spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

KJZZ's Phil Latzman spoke with McCain on Friday. Earlier in the week, we asked for your questions on Facebook and Twitter, and several of them made it into the final interview.

Interview highlights

As you might expect, a lot of our listeners did want to know why you continue to support Donald Trump. This is Susan from Facebook, she says, "He says horrible things about you and the military and neither he nor Pence will support you. Does he have something on you?

"Actually, Pence is supporting me. He came out yesterday and clarified what had been his earlier remarks and said that he is strongly supporting my candidacy. I'm not interesting in fracturing the Republican party any more and ensuring that Hillary Clinton is president and has a majority in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.  And that is to me a worse outcome than anything that I could imagine. Particularly when you're looking at the Supreme Court. We're looking at what is clearly been a lurch to the left of Hillary Clinton."

One congressman, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, said that he was an American before he was a Republican and therefore could not support Donald Trump. Some in our party have already said they'd cross the line. Your own Senate colleague, Jeff Flake, told us on KJZZ this week somebody's got to push back on his behavior. Wouldn't that be you?

"Haven't you seen what I've pushed back about the Khan family? Haven't you seen that? Did you happen to see that?"

Yes, I did.

"You did? OK, then you wouldn't be asking the question if you'd seen it. If you'd seen it you wouldn't be asking the question about whether I had pushed back on Trump or you're ignoring what I did, which I think is not good journalism ... I am running my own campaign and I am concerned about my own campaign. And your view of what people think is fine with me."

These aren't my views.

"They are entitled to their opinion as well, and I respect their opinion as well. But I have said, I'm not interested in seeing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States and losing the United States Senate."

Senator, our listeners also wrote us to say they were concerned about immigration reform.

"There has to be movement sooner or later on it because there's 11 million people who are in this country illegally and most Americans support a tough, but fair path to citizenship. But again, Barack Obama had 60 votes in the United States Senate, an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives when he came to the presidency. So he had two years, 2009, 2010. Did he take up immigration reform? No; he went for a stimulus package, he went for Obamacare, he went for Dodd-Frank. So (this) person ... should be blaming Barack Obama, who could have passed immigration reform the same way that he passed the Obamacare, with nothing but Democrat votes."

A lot of people asked about, whether the Senate will ever get to nominating Merrick Garland, this year, to the Supreme Court and if not, why not?

Laura on Twitter asked this:

And Tim, via email asked a similar question, why is he committed to holding a Supreme Court seat for Trump when a well qualified and able judge has already been appointed by the president?

"I don't think this is a well-qualified judge. in fact, I think he's very left of center. But again, I believe this is an issue for the next president of the United States, whoever that president is. And I can assure you this that I believe that Trump would make one heck of a lot better selection than Hillary Clinton would. We know who Hillary Clinton would select, another far left individual on the lines of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and other on the left."

Many have also wondered, Sen. McCain, what's left for you to accomplish if you are re-elected for another six-year term. Here's Amy on Facebook who sent us this: "The biggest complaint about Congress is that nothing gets done. My question for Sen. McCain is what does he hope to accomplish in his next term and what steps will he take and urge others to to actually get meaningful legislation passed and to increase the likelihood of Congress working again?"

"Well, the fact is that I am chairman of the Armed Services Committee. We have completed the defense authorization bill. It provides for the equipment, training and capabilities of this nation to defend itself in times when it is under more attack than any time since 9/11. I am proud of my leadership and I say with immodesty that I am acknowledged to be the most important senator in the United States Senate on National Security. I think Arizonans care about that. I have accomplished many things for Arizona."

Finally, things are so partisan these days. In all of your years of politics, can you ever remember a time when things have been so polarized on one side or the other?

"I have not and I'm sorry about it. I refer back to the Armed Services Committee. We act in a near unanimous fashion. The senior Democrat on the committee and I are not only good friends, but we work together and we always get a defense authorization bill completed and signed by the president. And that is unfortunately sort of the exception rather than the rule and it is unfortunate. And so, hopefully, we can after this election, perhaps work on areas, for example tax reform, that all of us agree on that we could be more effective for the American people. Believe me, we are in peril, there will be attacks on the United States of America. Thanks to a failed eight years of Barack Obama's leading from behind."

Former state Sen. Kelli Ward is challenging McCain in the August primary. We have reached out to her campaign with the same invitation that Sen. McCain got — and we hope to be able to speak with her before the primary.

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Hear the uncut version of KJZZ's interview with Sen. McCain