Sen. John McCain said Wednesday he is sticking by the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump despite “strong” differences over national security, notably the mogul’s suggestions that he would check whether NATO member countries had fulfilled their financial obligations before coming to their aid.
Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican who is fighting for re-election, said it is important to remember that NATO countries rushed to help the U.S. in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, even though they weren’t targeted.
“I think we shouldn’t forget that our NATO allies have been fighting side by side with us in Afghanistan for a long time,” Mr. McCain told News Talk 550 KFYI in Phoenix.
Mr. McCain, the GOP’s 2008 nominee, was among several big-name Republicans who avoided Mr. Trump’s coronation in Cleveland last week, though he said he watched “a good bit” of the Republican National Convention and considered it a success, particularly former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s vocal defense of first responders.
The senator said he used the week to campaign at home ahead of a GOP primary next month and likely fall showdown against Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
Mr. Trump clashed with Mr. McCain last year by suggesting the long-time senator wasn’t a war hero because he was captured by the North Vietnamese.
At the time, Mr. McCain said he didn’t care about receiving a personal apology from Mr. Trump, though he suggested a broad apology to the nation’s community of military veterans would be appropriate.
Mr. Trump, who didn’t back down, went on to romp through the GOP primary and win the nomination, forcing Mr. McCain and other senators to rally to the cause or sit on the sidelines.
“I’m not ready to desert [the nominee],” Mr. McCain told KFYI, saying the Republican primary was a legitimate process.
Mr. McCain said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was unable to repel Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, despite the Obama administration’s “reset” with President Vladimir Putin during her time as secretary of state.
He is also stunned that Democrats aren’t talking about the threat of Islamic State-inspired terror during their convention in Philadelphia.
“The world is on fire,” he said, citing attacks in the Middle East and attackers who slit the throat of a French priest on Monday.
“And yet,” he said, “the word ‘ISIS’ is never mentioned in two days of the Democratic convention.”