Cindy McCain says there is no 'voice of reason' in GOP, nearly a year after John McCain's death

Savannah Behrmann

WASHINGTON -- Nearly a week before the one-year anniversary of her husband Sen. John McCain's death, Cindy McCain said the current Republican Party is "not the party of Abraham Lincoln ... nor the party of Ronald Reagan."

Known for his habit of being a political maverick, the late Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., forged a record of bipartisanship through a willingness to create relationships with lawmakers across the aisle in order to seek solutions. The six-term U.S. senator disclosed in July 2017 that he had been diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.

Speaking out a year after her husband’s passing, Cindy McCain emphasized that she doesn’t see anyone carrying on in the bipartisan way that her husband had for years in Washington.

"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," Cindy McCain said in an interview with ABC News

She continued explaining 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."

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She also touched on the Trump administration’s immigration policies and rhetoric. 

“I think John would be very discouraged about the border situation right now with our immigrants and our refugees coming across the border now and their treatment.”

When pressed on how she thought her husband would have reacted to the “send her back” chants that broke out at a Trump campaign rally referring to the “Squad”, McCain said her husband "would not have accepted it." 

“I'm quite certain he would have spoke out about it," she continued. "These are American citizens -- these are our citizens." 

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As the Arizona Republic reported, Cindy McCain likes to remind people of the moment during the 2008 campaign when the senator, who was running against Barack Obama for the presidency, corrected a woman at a town hall who said she couldn’t trust Obama because he was “an Arab.” 

“No, ma’am,” John McCain said. “He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

In an op-ed published by the Washington Post Wednesday, Cindy McCain also called for civility in government. 

“John was a passionate partisan. But he was a statesman, too, and statesmen accept the necessity of cooperation and compromise to make some progress on the challenges our country faces,” she wrote.

"When Congress returns from its August recess, I hope its veteran members, many of whom my husband was proud to call his friends, and its newest ones will energetically contest the issues of the day. I hope they will fight for their beliefs and enjoy the contest. But I hope, too, as John would, that they do it with minds open to the possibility of compromise for the country's sake, and hearts open to the possibility and joys of unexpected friendships," McCain also wrote.

Through a video, Cindy McCain is also asking Americans to perform an act of civility and post about it on social media with the hashtag #ActsOfCivility. 

“I believe most Americans would find great value in that approach to politics and governing, and to well-lived lives. It is time to inspire a renewal of civil engagement that is so critical to meet the challenges of the future,” she concluded in the op-ed.

Speaking to the Arizona Republic, Cindy McCain shared some of her family's struggles in coping with the senator's death.  "My job is to make sure they’re OK  — that’s my job," Cindy McCain said of her children. "I have gotten calls in the middle of the night. I’ve gotten calls from ones I didn’t ever think that they would call me … Each situation is different."

The Republic reported that Cindy McCain "declined to comment directly about the president’s attacks over the past year on her husband, and his rhetoric." ABC News likewise reported Wednesday that "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."

Perhaps she felt that task had already been completed in some way by her late husband. As the Republic wrote "the retired Navy captain and Vietnam prisoner of war had become a fixture in American and global politics before his death" and "when he spoke to condemn the incivility and dysfunction that permeates American politics today, his voice was widely accepted as a counterweight to the combative style of politics and leadership embraced by President Donald Trump." 

Contributing: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Arizona Republic

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cindy McCain says there is no 'voice of reason' in Republican party