Then came the senator’s radical makeover.
In 2010, McCain found himself running for re-election against J.D. Hayworth, a former congressman turned right-wing radio talk show host. With polls showing that McCain was vulnerable to being turned out of office, the maverick became the conformist. He seemed determined to “out crazy” Hayworth on immigration, supporting the Arizona immigration law. That statute was opposed by 70% of Hispanics nationwide.
I harshly criticized McCain for being so quick to throw Hispanics under the bus. I had hoped that someone who withstood five and a half years of torture in a North Vietnamese prison camp would have been stronger and able to resist those in his own party who tried to pull him to the nativist fringe — and, by all appearances, succeeded in getting their way.
The low point had to have been in June 2011, when McCain — with no evidence to back it up — blamed some Arizona wildfires on illegal immigrants. The real culprits turned out to be two campers who had been careless about putting out their campfire, and wound up being fined $3.7 million in damages. The senator wound up with huevos rancheros on his face.