- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) - U.S. Sen. John McCain said Wednesday he’s sticking by his pledge to support Donald Trump as the GOP’s presidential nominee despite a series of Trump comments that have brought rebukes from top Republicans, including McCain himself.

“I have said that I will support the nominee of the party, and let me just say to you that is the last time,” McCain said while speaking to reporters in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. “If I change my view or my position then you will be among the first to know, OK.”

The Arizona senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee also said he isn’t going to expand on the lengthy statement he issued in response to Trump’s criticism of the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004. Trump drew the ire or many in his own party for comments he made attacking Khizr and Ghazala Khan.

McCain says he has severely chided Trump’s comments and “has talked about it as much as I am going to.”

“But I want to make clear to you that there’s really nothing more that I can add to the very strong feelings I have about my family, my friends and their sacrifice, and the fact that you not only have to respect but love the family members who have made these sacrifices,” he said.

Trump complained that Khizr Khan was “viciously attacking” him by appearing on stage at last week’s Democratic National Convention. Khan held up a copy of the Constitution, questioned whether Trump had even read it and asserted the billionaire had sacrificed nothing. Trump insisted he too had made sacrifices and questioned why Ghazala Khan did not speak on stage, which she later said was because she was too bereaved.

McCain’s lengthy statement in response to those comments was released Monday. On Tuesday, Trump attacked him and House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying he would not endorse either Republican in their re-election efforts. He said of McCain: “I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets.”

McCain declined to address Trump’s comments, other than to say that he stood by his record. McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years and led efforts to reform the Veterans Affairs Department after a recent scandal over long hospital wait times for veterans.

“I’m not going to respond to every statement that’s made about me, whether it be by my opponent in the primary, or the general, or Mr. Trump,” he said.

McCain has also criticized Trump in recent weeks for his statements that he might not back NATO allies who haven’t been fulfilling their financial obligations to the alliance.

McCain is seeking a sixth term and faces three primary challengers - one of whom has suspended his campaign but will remain on the ballot. Early voting began Wednesday and the primary election is Aug. 30. He also faces a strong general election challenge from Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick if he wins the primary.

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