Sen. John McCain said Friday that both Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky are qualified to run for the presidency in 2016.
The 2008 GOP presidential nominee has had quarrels with both men sporadically this year, calling them "wacko birds
" for a filibuster they mounted in March over U.S. drone policy.
Both Cruz and Paul are considered possible contenders for the 2016 Republican nomination.
"If that is who the party chooses I am sure that that nominee will be viable," McCain said in an interview with ABC Friday.
But McCain said no Republican candidate will succeed in 2016 without congressional passage of an immigration reform bill. Both firebrand conservatives voted against the Senate immigration measure in June, The Hill reports
"If we fail on immigration reform, it won’t matter who our nominee is because of the polarization of the Hispanic vote," McCain said.
He also upbraided Cruz for saying earlier this week that Republicans who won't support his call to link any deal to avoid a government shutdown to a defunding of Obamacare are "scared."
McCain's response: "I have been as ferocious a fighter, and I think as partisan as anybody, but I really try hard not to get personal,” he said. “Debate on the issue as hard as you can but don’t say your opponents, the people who disagree with you, are scared.
"It has been a long time since I’ve been scared," added the former Navy pilot who was shot down during the Vietnam war and held prisoner for nearly seven years.
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