John McCain, dying of cancer, expressed hope that he would have 'enough self-respect not to kiss' Trump's 'ass' like some of his GOP colleagues: book
- Before he died,
John McCainsaid he understood why so many in the GOP sucked up to Trump.
- But McCain hoped that even if he wasn't dying, "I would have enough self-respect not to kiss his ass like this."
Sen. John McCain said before his death that he understood why many of his fellow Republicans embraced
"It's just so over-the-top with this guy," McCain told the Atlantic's Mark Leibovich in December 2017. Leibovich's new book "Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump's Washington and the Price of Submission" comes out on Tuesday.
McCain told Leibovich that he understood why many Republicans support Trump: out of fear or a calculation to win reelection. But some went too far, the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee said.
"The Russia stuff, the lies, the bullying, the ignorance, the bullshit," McCain said. "Look, I know I'm not going to be here much longer. But I'd like to think that even if that weren't the case, I would have enough self-respect not to kiss his ass like this."
McCain did not name specific colleagues during that reported conversation with Leibovich. But Leibovich writes at length about South Carolina Sen.
"Do you really have to keep saying how great of a fucking golfer he is?" McCain asked Graham, according to the book.
McCain and Trump famously sniped back and forth at each other.
Many of Trump's fellow Republican presidential hopefuls called on Trump to drop out of the 2016 race after he said McCain was "not a war hero." McCain was captured and imprisoned in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. McCain endured torture as a prisoner of war until his release in 1973.
After Trump scored the requisite number of delegates to clinch the GOP nomination, many Republicans kept a low profile between June and July 2016, often declining to comment on him. Leibovich described the "head down" approach as "an early-stage version of the denial that would metastasize into many iterations of cowardice over four years."
"Let's just get this unity shit over with," McCain told him that summer at the US Capitol, Leibovich wrote. "The RNC has gotten pretty good at autopsies, I guess."
McCain later also told Leibovich he understood why so many Republicans "are so terrified of getting on the wrong side of the president."
"They don't want to get the shit kicked out of them by Limbaugh, Hannity, the tweets, all that," McCain said. "It's no fun. I get it. Trump can cost them their jobs, and they like their jobs. I get that, too. Every elected official makes certain calculations."
McCain's references to Fox New's Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, the legendary conservative talk radio host, are particularly notable given his struggles to appease conservative media throughout his career. McCain's reputation for at times bucking the GOP practically guaranteed his uneasy relationship with some of the right's leading voices.
Just months before speaking with Leibovich, McCain further enraged Trump by effectively killing the GOP's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature health-care law and one of the biggest pieces of his legacy. Trump took such offense at McCain's vote that he continued to ridicule the Arizona Republican even after McCain died in August 2018.
Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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