McCain was motivated in part by Trump’s recent comments on the military, where he called war heroes ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’
Guardian staff and agencies
Cindy McCain, widow of Arizona Senator John McCain, has endorsed Joe Biden for president. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP
Cindy McCain has endorsed Joe Biden for president, a stunning rebuke of Donald Trump by the widow of the Republican party’s 2008 nominee.
Cindy McCain tweeted on Tuesday: “My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is Joe Biden.”
Cindy McCain (@cindymccain)
My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is @JoeBiden.
Trump has had a fraught relationship with members of John McCain’s family since he disparaged the Arizona senator during his 2016 campaign. The president has publicly criticized McCain on numerous occasions and was enraged when the senator voted against an effort to overturn Obamacare. During his campaign, Trump infamously said of McCain: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured … He lost and let us down. I’ve never liked him as much after that. I don’t like losers.”
However, the McCains have stopped short of endorsing Trump’s rivals.
Cindy McCain’s backing could help Biden appeal to Republicans disaffected with the president and give the former vice president a boost in Arizona, a crucial swing state that McCain represented in Congress for 35 years. He’s remained a revered figure since his 2018 death from complications of a brain tumor, particularly with the independent voters whom Biden is courting.
Biden told donors on Tuesday evening that McCain’s endorsement was coming “because of what (Trump) talks about how my son and John and others who are heroes, who served their country. You know, he said they’re ‘losers, suckers’.”
Biden was referring to comments Trump reportedly made mocking the American war dead. Trump has denied making the remarks, first reported through anonymous sources by The Atlantic, but many of the comments were later confirmed by the Associated Press.
Cindy McCain had not initially been expected to offer an explicit endorsement of Biden, but she had already gone to bat for his presidential run. She lent her voice to a video that aired during the Democratic National Convention and was focused on Biden’s close friendship with her late husband.
John McCain was assigned to be a military aide for Biden, then a senator, during an overseas trip, and their families formed an enduring friendship. They later shared a grim bond over glioblastoma, an aggressive cancer that killed Biden’s son Beau three years before McCain succumbed to the same disease.
John McCain said in 2016 that he couldn’t support Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016, citing Trump’s demeaning comments about women.
“It’s not pleasant for me to renounce the nominee of my party,” McCain said during a debate as he sought his sixth term in the Senate. “He won the nomination fair and square.”