Senator John McCain is fighting an unusually tough reelection battle this year and his Democratic opponent has made Donald Trump the centerpiece of her campaign. The Washington Post reports some expect McCain to dump Trump after winning the primary battle:
…the personal and political antipathy between McCain and Trump has led some experts to suspect that McCain will dump Trump after he secures his party’s nomination Tuesday. The political calculus is that he desperately needs Trump’s voters to win the primary but needs Trump voters and anti-Trump independents to win the general election. McCain says he does not expect to stop supporting Trump before Election Day.
But Politico reports McCain is vowing to continue supporting the Republican nominee rather than turning on Trump in the general election:
No matter the magnitude of his victory against Republican Kelli Ward — and McCain is favored to win easily — McCain (R-Ariz.) made clear last week that there will be no general election turn against his party’s bombastic nominee.
“No. There’s no reason to do that,” McCain said in an interview at his campaign headquarters here. “They all know me. Everybody in Arizona really knows me unless they just moved in.”
For the moment, McCain’s strategy seems to be working for him. A CNN poll released last week showed him with a 13 point lead over Democratic challenger Ann Kirkpatrick. The current Real Clear Politics average of polls, which includes the CNN poll, has him up 8 points.
McCain, like Paul Ryan, has been critical of specific comments Trump has made while still supporting him as the nominee. Some McCain supporters say that’s the best approach. From Politico:
The best way to finish that dance, McCain supporters say, is to allow voters to decide that Trump’s comments on McCain are out of bounds on their own merits, without explicit direction from McCain.
“His ‘no comment’ speaks louder than repudiating,” said Margaret Leichtfuss, executive director of Scottsdale Leadership, a nonprofit civic organization.
It’s a stance which satisfies no one completely but which attempts to avoid making potential voters into enemies.