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Republican Sen. John McCain's Widow Endorses Joe Biden

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Yet another prominent conservative is urging Republicans to cross party lines and support Joe Biden for president. Cindy McCain, widow of the late Republican Sen. John McCain, wrote on Twitter last night, quote, "My husband John lived by a code - country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There is only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is Joe Biden." Well, Cindy McCain joins us now.

Mrs. McCain, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

CINDY MCCAIN: Thank you. I appreciate it.

KELLY: When did you come to this decision? I wondered if there was a specific moment where you thought, enough.

MCCAIN: Well, really, a lot of things factored into it. My family, of course, trusts Joe, working across the aisle the way he did with my husband and others. Of course, as you mentioned, country first - military families, of course, were - it played big into this; and the fact that we can agree to disagree and do it civilly.

KELLY: Yeah. I mean, you and the Bidens share a bond as military families. And I'm sure it's not...

MCCAIN: We do.

KELLY: ...Yeah - lost on you that this isn't just a president but will be a commander in chief, whoever gets elected.

MCCAIN: Yes, yeah. You're exactly right. And it's most important. I mean, you know, like all of us - I think most of us anyway, when we heard or observed the comments that were made about our troops, it was just - it was unbelievable. I was in disbelief with it for a long time.

Like everybody, I find it mind-boggling that someone would say that those young men and women that gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country are losers and suckers. I - it offends me to - beyond belief. And also...

KELLY: These are comments by President Trump as reported by Jeff Goldberg in The Atlantic magazine and then...

MCCAIN: Yeah. Yes.

KELLY: ...More widely reported by other news organizations. Go on.

MCCAIN: And more importantly, the families of these young men and women deserve our respect and our - and dignity for this service that their children rendered. You know, I'm there. I'm one of them. And so I - it bothered me to think that somehow someone would think that my sons were losers or suckers.

KELLY: To the point about country first and how you see - the way that you wrote about this, that line - we are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost.

MCCAIN: Yes.

KELLY: It suggests you have found those loyalties coming into conflict with each other lately.

MCCAIN: Well, you know, like everybody, I disagree with a lot of what's being said. I disagree with some of the behavior and content. But in America, we can disagree. The point about disagreeing is that it's civil. It should be civil. And in the case of what's going on right now, it's anything but civil. So I would like to go back to the years that I remember with my husband in Washington where John worked with Tip O'Neill across the aisle as a junior congressman to do what was best for the country, not for themselves. And that's where Joe Biden is. That's why I believe in him and why I'm on team Biden.

KELLY: How do you answer Republicans who will say, how could you? - but - in this moment of all moments, when confirming a conservative justice to the Supreme Court is at stake? I mean, your husband was, in his beliefs, he was a hardcore conservative.

MCCAIN: He was, yes. But he was also one that was pragmatic and knew when either the issue was wrong or that he needed to work across the aisle and work together with people. You know, this isn't about Republican versus Democrat in my mind. It transcends that. It transcends everything that has occurred. And certainly, 2020 is the most unusual year we can name to date. So we need someone that can take the helm in a time of crisis, which is where we're at right now, and someone that not only supports our troops but believes in the good of America and not the ill of America.

KELLY: Did you talk to your husband about this decision in some way?

MCCAIN: (Laughter) Well, I mean - what I think John would be doing right now is that he would be very disappointed in what's going on. He would be very disappointed in what is taking place on Capitol Hill. And with that said, I think he would be supportive of me in doing what I think is right. He was always supportive of me.

And as you know, my husband and I did not agree on everything. But he was one - whether or not he would have done this, I don't know, but I believe that the ideals that John possessed are the same ideals as Joe Biden. And I've got to believe that he's somehow watching all this right now (laughter).

KELLY: Yeah. Well, Cindy McCain, thank you so much.

MCCAIN: Thank you. I appreciate you having me on.

KELLY: We appreciate you being with us.

Cindy McCain is the widow of the late Republican senator and presidential candidate John McCain. She is endorsing Joe Biden for president. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.