Sen. John McCain has taken his share of verbal punches from presumptive GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
But McCain, who was the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2008 in an unsuccessful bid against then-Sen. Barack Obama, is absolutely right to say Trump should reach out to the opponents he defeated to get the GOP to unite behind him. That needs to be done before the Republican National Convention in July.
McCain shared that view when he was in Kansas City on Monday to receive the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Award. It’s why the longtime senator from Arizona received the honor and billionaire Trump never will.
Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Foundation picked McCain because of his years of leadership on international and military policy. The annual award is given on or near Truman's May 8 birthday, has been presented since 1973. Truman was the nation’s 33rd president and the only one from Missouri. He was born in 1884, served in World War I, served as a U.S. senator, vice president and was president, bringing about the end of World War II.
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McCain has taken more than his share of verbal assaults from Trump early in the campaign. Trump last summer derided McCain’s military service during the Vietnam War, saying McCain was only viewed as a “war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured.”
Trump trying to clarify his remarks added: “If a person is captured, they're a hero as far as I'm concerned.... But you have to do other things also. I don't like the job John McCain is doing in the Senate because he is not taking care of our veterans."
McCain was a Navy pilot during the war whose plane was shot down. He was captured and held for more than five years as a prisoner of war. He has been a strong advocate for veterans and has been against the use of torture on prisoners.
Trump in his campaign said he favors torture. Trump also has made a litany of negative comments against the more than a dozen people who had been campaigning against him until the last of the bunch, Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, dropped out after the Indiana primary this month.
But Trump also has infamously criticized women, Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims and minorities. The fence-mending that Trump would have to do to fix the damage that his offensive campaign style has caused would be more vast than the 58-story Trump Tower that opened in New York on Valentine’s Day in 1983.
Trump is out of time to do that kind of heavy construction work, and few people would believe that he was sincere.
It’s why House Speaker Paul Ryan famously said last week that he couldn’t support Trump’s run for president at this time. It’s why some Republicans have unsuccessfully spent millions of dollars to try to topple Trump’s candidacy.
Trump has the support of McCain’s former running mate, Sarah Palin. But the former Alaska governor’s support can work against Trump as much as for him. She is just as unpredictable as he is.
However, Trump continues to steam roll toward the Republican nomination at the convention and the November election, which likely will be against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.
But even that is shaping up to be a boys against the girls school yard fight.
No election should ever come down to that. The American electorate should have outgrown such childish playground antics.
Because it appears that we haven’t, whoever enters the White House as a result could be viewed as a loser from day one.