The Slatest

John McCain: “Impossible” to Back Trump After “Boasts About Sexual Assaults”

Sen. John McCain speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 5, 2015, in Washington.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain is boarding the unendorsement train. The senator was one of the Republican leaders who quickly condemned the 2005 Donald Trump recording in which Trump proudly talked about how he sexually assaulted women. But he notably didn’t drop his support for the Republican candidate. That changed on Saturday afternoon when he issued a statement saying it was “impossible” to continue supporting a candidate due to “his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults.”

By referring to Trump’s hot mic comments as “boasts about sexual assaults” (which they were), McCain is going further than most other Republicans criticizing Trump who have instead chosen to characterize the statements as lewd and offensive but not criminal acts. That sets McCain apart and perhaps gives him a way to explain why this was suddenly a red line considering Trump’s previous offensive comments were not enough to rescind his support.


McCain also criticized Trump’s “outrageous statements about the innocent men in the Central Park Five case.”

Also unlike others who have rescinded their Trump endorsements, McCain doesn’t call on the candidate to drop out and for Mike Pence to take his place. Instead, McCain says he will write in “some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be president.” McCain is running for re-election in November and is currently locked in a tight race against Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.

The full statement:

In addition to my well known differences with Donald Trump on public policy issues, I have raised questions about his character after his comments on Prisoners of War, the Khan Gold Star family, Judge Curiel and earlier inappropriate comments about women. Just this week, he made outrageous statements about the innocent men in the Central Park Five case.


As I said yesterday, there are no excuses for Donald Trump’s offensive and demeaning comments in the just released video; no woman should ever be victimized by this kind of inappropriate behavior. He alone bears the burden of his conduct and alone should suffer the consequences.

I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set. I thought I owed his supporters that deference.

But Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy. Cindy, with her strong background in human rights and respect for women fully agrees with me in this.

Cindy and I will not vote for Donald Trump. I have never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate and we will not vote for Hillary Clinton. We will write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be President.