Cindy McCain held nothing back in her turn as guest host of “The View” on Wednesday, knocking President Trump for “bullying” and “nepotism,” and criticizing Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson for spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to redecorate his office.
McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), responded to the swipe Trump took at her husband in an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. The president complained about John McCain's vote last summer against a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, which would have repealed the law’s individual insurance mandate and rolled back a tax on medical devices.
Trump elicited boos for John McCain, as he said that “except for one senator ... we would have had health care” among early-term accomplishments. “I don’t want to be controversial, so I won’t use his name,” Trump added, seemingly referring to the indelicacy of directly attacking a war hero who is fighting brain cancer.
Cindy McCain said that her family has “much bigger things to worry about right now than what the president says.” She added that the country needs “more compassion. We need more empathy. We need more togetherness, in terms of working together. We don’t need more bullying, and I’m tired of it.”
She also weighed in on the downgraded security clearance for Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and on a Washington Post report that officials in at least four countries have discussed ways to manipulate Kushner through his foreign business interests and diplomatic inexperience.
Kushner's inability to access top-secret information could hamper his job performance, but any decision White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly might make about Kushner's continued service is complicated by family ties. Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump, the president's elder daughter, who also is a senior adviser.
“This is nepotism,” McCain said, “and I truly believe that in the White House, nepotism should not play a role in any of this, at all. I mean you have two people very close to him whose purpose is not the country; the purpose is the man. And that’s a problem, because this is about serving your country.”
Reacting to a New York Times report that the Department of Housing and Urban Development spent $31,561 on a dining room set for Carson's office last year, McCain told a story.
“When my husband was first elected to the Senate,” she began, “we had to furnish the office, etc. And we had two choices: We could spend government money to do it; we chose to buy our own. We bought the pieces of furniture that are in his office, with the exception of the desk, and that was a gift from Barry Goldwater. It was his desk. So that’s the desk. To me — both my husband and I felt it wasn’t appropriate, and it wasn’t the right thing to do, to spend government money on furniture.”
McCain family criticism of the Trump administration is not new, yet Cindy McCain has historically been somewhat reluctant to enter the political fray. During John McCain's presidential run in 2008, Libby Copeland, then at The Post, noted that “in speeches, Cindy McCain has said she didn't particularly want to do this campaign.”
“You get the sense there is much going on behind that smile, but she is not about to share it with the world, thank you very much,” Copeland wrote. “She does the candidate wife thing: She stands there and looks supportive. She straightens her husband's collar. She defends her own.”
That Cindy McCain decided to speak her mind Wednesday on “The View” is a testament to how strongly she must feel about what she said.