- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2013

Sen. John McCain appears cautiously optimistic that the House of Representatives will ultimately pass some kind of immigration reform — and says that the GOP is doomed in the 2016 presidential contest if the effort fails.

“The crystal ball is a little cloudy because I think August is going to be a very seminal month,” he said, pointing out that members are back interacting with constituents and that a broad coalition of interest groups back comprehensive immigration reform.

Mr. McCain was part of a bipartisan group that helped get a comprehensive bill through the Democratic-controlled Senate, while leaders of the Republican-led House say they plan to approach the issue in a more step-by-step manner.

In the interview with ABC’s Jeff Zeleny, the Arizona Republican was shown a clip of fellow GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas saying there are Republicans in Washington who are “scared” of being beaten up politically was then played.

Mr. Cruz and a small group of others have clashed with senators like Mr. McCain over budget talks and whether Republicans should withhold support for any spending bill that includes funding to implement or enforce President Obama’s health care law.

“Look, I’ve been a ferocious a fighter and I think as partisan, as strong, as anybody, but I really try hard not to get personal,” Mr. McCain said. “Debate on the issue as hard as you can, but don’t say that your opponents, that people who disagree with you are scared.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been scared,” said the Arizona Republican, who spent more than five years in captivity during the Vietnam War.

Mr. McCain said that if the party chooses Mr. Cruz or Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky as its 2016 nominee, either will be “viable.”

“But I want to say, in strongest possible terms, that if we fail on immigration reform, it won’t matter who our nominee is because of the polarization of the Hispanic vote,” Mr. McCain said.

In 2012, Mr. Obama took 74 percent of the Hispanic vote in his contest against Republican Mitt Romney.

“That’s not why I’m for immigration reform,” Mr. McCain said. “But it certainly is one of the consequences of a failure.”

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