Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says his Senate colleague Ted Cruz is the Republican presidential hopeful with whom he has the sharpest disagreement and singled out the Texan’s vote against the National Defense Authorization Act as the chief reason.
During a discussion of this year’s 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls, Newsmax asked McCain which three he felt had the best records on national security and which three had the worst.
“I don’t like to duck a question,” he replied, with a laugh, and restated his support for South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said: “Lindsey is like a brother to me. I believe in loyalty and I will stay with him until he achieves success or failure [in his presidential campaign].”
Although he didn’t specifically address their records on national security, McCain said he admires “[New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie for his gumption and [Florida Sen.] Marco Rubio, particularly for his stands on national security issues. He’s part of a new generation of Republican leaders.”
He also voiced admiration for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, “with whom I first came to the House [in 1982] and who has been a very successful governor in a strong [electoral vote-wise] state.”
While not mentioning Donald Trump’s controversial statements on illegal immigration, the Arizonan did warn that Republicans “cannot alienate the Hispanic vote. Do the math.”
McCain, who was speaking at a Washington breakfast on Wednesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, made clear he was reluctant to say anything bad about any in the 13-candidate Republican field. Nonetheless he singled out Cruz as the lone hopeful in line for his criticism.
“I have a strong disagreement with Sen. Cruz — he was the only Republican to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act,” said McCain, who, in his capacity as Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, worked closely with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R.-Texas, and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed (the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee) to craft the reform legislation.
“That’s very odd,” McCain said of Cruz’s opposition to the NDAA, which passed both Houses of Congress but was vetoed by President Obama.
He added that “I disagree with Sen. Cruz’s strategy of shutting down the government,” which the Texas senator deployed in an attempt to halt implementation of Obamacare.
But the five-term senator quickly said of the Republican field “I respect all of them. They are all willing to run and willing to go through the [nomination] process.”
John Gizzi is the chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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