Nearly a year after her husband’s death, Cindy McCain said the current Republican Party is “not the party of Abraham Lincoln … nor the party of Ronald Reagan.”
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In an interview with ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl, McCain spoke about the legacy her late husband, Sen. John McCain, left in American politics, and focused on his willingness to work across the aisle. A year later, McCain said she doesn’t see anyone picking up and carrying the mantle of staunch bipartisanship the way her husband did.
“That was a tough torch to carry and, as John said, there were many lonely days because he always said what was on his mind,” she told Karl.
(MORE: President Trump, rebuked for attacking John McCain, complains he didn’t get ‘thank you’ for his funeral)
McCain added that her husband “never did anything deliberately to be hurtful or anything. … I don’t see anybody carrying that mantle at all, I don’t see anyone carrying the voice — the voice of reason.”
That sentiment appeared to extend to one of the late senator’s closest friends and colleagues, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s widely considered to be one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies.
“Lindsey has his own political career to worry about and his own political life,” McCain said. “I would just hope that in the long run, everyone would begin to move in the right direction, including Lindsey or anybody else.”
“Lindsey’s a part of my family,” she added. “He’s a good friend and I cannot, [and] will not, be critical of Lindsey.”
Despite her comments about the Republican Party as a whole, McCain did not call out Trump directly even with his frequent attacks on John McCain, including after his passing.
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images, FILE
John McCain with his wife, Cindy, and children pose for a photo, Feb. 1, 2000 in New Hampshire. McCain’s children are from left, Andy, Jimmy, Jack, Bridget, Meghan, Doug, and Sidney.
When asked about an incident in May, in which the White House requested that the name of the U.S.S. John McCain be covered up ahead of Trump’s visit to Japan, Cindy said, “I don’t know who directed it.”
Navy leadership didn’t go through with obscuring the ship’s name, and Trump denied having any information about the request.
Cindy McCain said she called around seeking more information but realized she was “never going to find out.”
“What concerns me is that it happened at a United States naval warfare ship,” McCain said. “Those fine men and women on that ship did not deserve that.”
Caitlin OHara/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Cindy McCain, wife of late Senator John McCain, speaks during a campaign rally with Martha McSally, not pictured, outside the Historic Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, Ariz., Nov. 5, 2018.
McCain also seemed to allude to some of the Trump administration’s most controversial policies, including on immigration.
“You know this country is made up of immigrants,” she said. “We’re made up of people of every color, every creed, and that’s what makes us special.”
When asked by Karl how she thought John McCain would have reacted to the “send her back” chants that broke out at a “Make America Great Again” rally in North Carolina, referring to four Democratic congresswomen, McCain said her husband “would not have accepted it.”
“I’m quite certain he would have spoke out about it,” she said. “These are American citizens — these are our citizens.”
(MORE: John McCain, Arizona senator and Vietnam war hero, dies at 81)
Trump allowed the chants to last more than 10 seconds without saying a single word. Later, he said he disagreed with “send her back” chants.
“We are from all walks of life, and they have just as much a right to be here as we do,” Cindy McCain said. “That’s not what this country was founded on.”
In addition to the political speed bumps facing the Republican Party, Cindy McCain noted that there is “trouble on both sides of the aisle.”
“The Democrats have their own problems, as well, and I know they feel the pressure on their side too, because they are talking about it,” McCain said without elaborating further.
In hope of helping overcome divisiveness in politics, McCain and her family are launching a new initiative called “Acts of Civility” that aims to use her husband’s story to go beyond politics and inspire people to engage with one another on critical issues, thoughtfully and constructively.
A major effect of incivility, Cindy McCain said, has been the proliferation of mass shootings across the country. She didn’t comment specifically on gun control policy, but said it’s an issue worth addressing with urgency.
(MORE: There have been at least 17 deadly mass shootings in the US so far in 2019)
“These shootings are our response to this incivility, and our response to things that are occurring around them,” she said, adding, “All of this has to be taken into consideration in our country. I mean our country is not well right now, [and] we need to get our act together.”
Ultimately, however, McCain said she believes the country will overcome its current difficulties.
“I believe in America. I believe so much in this country, and I know John did too,” she said. “I believe this pendulum is going to swing back. I don’t know when, but I just don’t believe that we’re going to stick right here on the side that’s just disruptive and mean and non-progressive in any way.”