Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Monday that Donald Trump should reach out to defeated opponents in order to unite the Republican Party this fall.
McCain — in Kansas City to accept the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award — told reporters his party’s disagreement over the Trump candidacy is “very difficult.”
One answer, McCain said, is for Trump, the almost-certain GOP presidential nominee, to extend his hand.
“I’ve always believed, and seen, that the victor reaches out to the others,” he said. “The winner should be gracious in victory.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Asked if he had seen any signs of that graciousness from Trump, McCain said no.
“I don’t know if it’s a problem or not,” he said, “but it’s a departure from tradition.”
McCain was the GOP presidential nominee in 2008. The size of the party’s fissure over Trump can be measured in part by the views of two people who were big parts of McCain’s campaign that year.
Former speechwriter Mark Salter told Politico he thinks Trump may be “unstable” and might “come apart.” Salter says he’s voting for Hillary Clinton.
At the same time, McCain’s vice presidential choice, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has endorsed Trump. This weekend, she said Republicans in Wisconsin should vote House Speaker Paul Ryan out of office for not endorsing the businessman.
Although he has offered lukewarm support for Trump in the past, McCain wouldn’t take sides in the dispute. He said he and other candidates may soon tire of daily questions about Trump’s statements.
“We’ve got a world on fire, we’ve get millions of refugees, we’ve got all kinds of issues and challenges,” he said. “We seem to be focusing on one individual. That’s not really healthy.”
McCain did not mention Trump in his speech to 450 people at the Muehlebach Tower of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. Instead, he praised Truman’s courage and commitment to civil rights.
“He was just the leader we needed,” McCain said.