John McCain's long road ahead

But even if “Trumpism” isn’t taking off, as evident by Ward’s loss, among others, Trump is presenting a challenge to down-ballot candidates straddling traditional conservatism and Trump’s proposals to avoid alienating his supporters. McCain, who’s running for his sixth term, is now among them. Though he secured a victory in Arizona on Tuesday, he still faces his toughest reelection battle yet against his Democratic challenger, Ann Kirkpatrick. McCain has to keep Trump at arms length to appeal to anti-Trump Republicans, but not do so in a way that alienates those supporting the nominee. It’s an awkward position for the Arizona senator, who has had a rocky relationship with Trump.

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Trump said last year that McCain was not a war hero despite being a prisoner of war. Still, the Arizona senator, with reelection on the horizon, backed the nominee. Trump, for his part, had withheld his support of McCain, saying in a Washington Post interview earlier this month: “I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets.” Trump eventually endorsed McCain. But the episode showcased the underlying tension between the two, likely to last until November.

McCain has expressed concern about Trump alienating Latino voters, who make up roughly 22 percent of the Arizona’s registered voters. Earlier this year, McCain said, according to a Politico report, “If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life.” But Trump, too, has established ties in the state. He received the support of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and won the state’s primary in March. On Wednesday, Trump will be back in the state to deliver a speech on immigration.

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