The Slatest

Cindy McCain Endorses Joe Biden for President

Cindy McCain holds a Bible on which John places his left hand as he raises his right hand. Joe Biden, in the foreground, reads from a piece of paper.
Late Sen. John McCain stands with his wife, Cindy, as he’s sworn in by then–Vice President Joe Biden in January 2011. Tim Sloan/Getty Images

Cindy McCain gave her formal endorsement Tuesday to Joe Biden and his run for the presidency after signaling her support last month when she narrated a video as part of the Democratic National Convention highlighting Biden’s 40-year friendship with her late husband, Sen. John McCain. The McCain family’s relationship with President Donald Trump has always been adversarial with Trump denigrating the Republican senator’s military service and years spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. In the two years since McCain’s death from brain cancer, Trump has repeatedly disparaged McCain in oddly personal ways. “He was horrible,” Trump said in a 2019 interview with Fox News six months after McCain’s death.

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During a round of interviews with media outlets following her endorsement, Cindy McCain cited Trump’s derisive comments about veterans as what pushed her into taking a more active role in supporting Biden. “The most important thing that moved me a great deal was talking about troops’ being ‘losers,’ ” McCain told the New York Times. “You know we have children in the military, as did the Bidens.” The McCains have two sons who served in the military; Joe Biden’s late son, Beau, was in the National Guard, which included a combat tour in Iraq. “[Joe Biden] supports the troops and knows what it means for someone who has served,” McCain told the Washington Post. “Not only to love someone who has served, but understands what it means to send a child into combat. We’ve been great friends for many years, but we have a common thread in that we are Blue Star families.”

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Cindy McCain, the partner of the former standard-bearer of the Republican Party, is a high-profile defection, and a sign of the times within the GOP, but she’s not alone in her cross-party support of Biden, as a growing legion of centrist Republicans have decamped from their party’s vulgarian nominee. Some have publicly endorsed; others have taken to the campaign trail. It’s unclear how much of a difference the opinion of this sliver of the electorate will have over swing Republican or independent voters. McCain said her public role over the last six weeks of the campaign is still taking shape, but she would campaign in her home state of Arizona, a new swing presidential state that if it goes to Biden would seriously complicate Trump’s electoral math.

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