Cindy McCain, the widow of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain and a prominent voice in the swing state of Arizona, shared on TODAY Wednesday why she broke party ranks and endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president.
"Really what led me to this decision was like so many other people in the country, I've been watching what's going on, and I'm deeply concerned," McCain told Savannah Guthrie. "Joe Biden represents to me the kind of values and integrity and courage that we want in the president, and someone who I think would have my back as a citizen who lives and someone who lives in a neighborhood and has a family and all the other things that people do.
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"I want to feel like my president cares about me and cares about this country, and Joe Biden does. I've known Joe for over 40 years and I know the kind of man he is."
McCain, 66, whose husband repeatedly clashed with President Donald Trump, announced her endorsement in a tweet on Tuesday night.
"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," McCain wrote.
"Joe and I don't always agree on the issues, and I know he and John certainly had some passionate arguments, but he is a good and honest man. He will lead us with dignity," she continued. "He will be a commander in chief that the finest fighting force in the history of the world can depend on, because he knows what it is like to send a child off to fight."
In a statement to NBC News, the Trump campaign said, "Mrs. McCain did not support Donald Trump in 2016, and he is president now."
Meanwhile, the president responded to McCain's comments in a tweet early Monday, saying his opponent was "John McCain's lapdog."
"I hardly know Cindy McCain other than having put her on a Committee at her husband’s request," Trump wrote. "Joe Biden was John McCain’s lapdog. So many BAD decisions on Endless Wars & the V.A., which I brought from a horror show to HIGH APPROVAL. Never a fan of John. Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!"
During her appearance on TODAY, McCain was asked if a story in The Atlantic in which anonymous sources said Trump mocked American war dead as "losers" and "suckers," which Trump has denied, was the last straw in her choice to publicly support Biden.
"Pretty much," she said. "It's a combination of things, but I do believe that our men and women that serve in the military are not losers and certainly the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice are not losers."
The military has also long been an integral part of the McCain family. John McCain was a Navy pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. His father and grandfather were both four-star admirals, and his sons Jack and James served in the Navy and the Marine Corps, respectively.
Cindy McCain also spoke about Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is a longtime friend — but also one of Trump's most fervent supporters.
"Lindsey is an old and very dear friend and I will always love him," McCain said. "He's like a member of my family. Republicans that believe in doing what they're doing, it's certainly their prerogative to do so. I think things should be different, so we just have a difference of opinion.
"It's not a bad thing in this country and it should be respected, but in my opinion Joe Biden is the better man who will make the better president."
McCain imagined what her late husband would have thought of her choice to endorse the opposing party's nominee.
"Well the one thing I do know and I can say with great belief is that he would've been disappointed at what's going on," McCain said. "I think John would've been certainly upset about the direction the country's going. If I look up, I hope he's happy with what I'm doing and believes that I've done the right thing. That's all I can ask for."