Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Without Naming Names, John McCain Frets about Top of GOP Ticket in 2016

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Without Naming Names, John McCain Frets about Top of GOP Ticket in 2016

Article excerpt

John McCain, the senior senator from Arizona and the GOP's 2008 presidential nominee, knows he has a bull's-eye on his back.

The tea party is going after Senator McCain in the Republican primary, as he seeks a sixth term in the Senate. If he clears that hurdle, he'll face a Democratic challenger in the general election next November.

That task - and the GOP's larger quest to hold onto the Senate - will be all the more difficult if the party's presidential nominee is weak, McCain says. At a press breakfast Wednesday hosted by the Monitor, McCain didn't go after Donald Trump explicitly, but he made clear that he thinks a Trump nomination could hurt other Republican candidates.

"Obviously, we all know from history that if you have a weak top of the ticket, that has a significant effect on the states, particularly the swing states," McCain said. "I hate to refer to Barry Goldwater, who I loved and admired, but the fact is when Barry Goldwater lost, [Republicans] lost big-time."

Senator Goldwater of Arizona, whose seat McCain holds, was soundly defeated in the 1964 election against President Lyndon Johnson. Goldwater was seen as too conservative for the times, and he faced a sitting president who had taken over just a year earlier for the slain President John F. Kennedy.

Today, Republicans control the Senate by a margin of just four votes, and they are defending far more seats than the Democrats this cycle. One incumbent senator who could be harmed by a weak GOP nominee, McCain says, is his friend Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire. She's locked in a tight reelection race against Gov. Maggie Hassan (D).

"By the way, I'm confident that Kelly will win, don't get me wrong, but I think it's a bigger lift," McCain added.

McCain also went after Mr. Trump (again, not by name) for disparaging Hispanics, as the billionaire real estate developer did when he announced his campaign.

"You cannot alienate the Hispanic voter and expect to win a general election," McCain said. "You can do the math on it."

In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in his loss to President Obama. In 2016, political analysts say, the Republican nominee will need to win at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the election. …

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