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Cindy McCain criticizes GOP: ‘That’s not the party my husband and I belonged to’

In this 2016 photo, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pauses as his wife, Cindy McCain, looks at him onstage after giving his reelection victory speech. The senator died in 2018. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Cindy McCain is voicing a dim view of some of the ways the Republican Party is doing business in 2019.

Asked to size up the political landscape heading into the 2020 election during an episode of Politico’s “Women Rule” podcast that was released Wednesday, the widow of John McCain, the longtime Republican senator from Arizona, pointed to the local GOP in Arizona and assessed that “it’s not functioning well” and excludes people who aren’t “walking the line.”

“That’s just not right,” McCain said. “That’s not the party my husband and I belonged to.”

While those issues may have McCain feeling alienated from the party, she predicted they could also have consequences for Republicans in 2020. Speaking about the Arizona GOP, she noted how the party’s exclusionary views, as McCain described them, could fail to resonate with Arizona voters; the state’s demographics increasingly include younger voters, a politically organized — and vocal — Latino population and transplants from around the country.

It was unclear from the interview whether McCain was speaking at times about the broader Republican Party or specifically about the Arizona arm of the GOP. The Washington Post reached out to a representative for McCain seeking clarification but did not immediately receive a response.

“I can see [Arizona] going Democrat, I really can,” McCain said. “I’m not saying I want that, but I can see it happening.”

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Her home state, which her husband represented in Congress for more than 35 years, is among a small cluster of reliably red states that could turn blue next year.

Arizona, with its 11 electoral votes, may prove an attractive target for Democrats heading into next year.

“The Arizona as you knew it is gone,” Republican pollster Bill McInturff told The Washington Post in August.

In other parts of McCain’s wide-ranging, half-hour-long interview, she reflected on her life as a special ed teacher, a political spouse and her courtship with the late senator. No longer a political spouse in the year since her husband’s death, McCain has focused her efforts on bringing civility back into politics.

In the interview, McCain lamented that much of the political discourse has “degenerated into name calling.” She didn’t linger on President Trump, who feuded with and often insulted the late senator — even after his death in 2018 from glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. McCain characterized the president and vitriol from the House and Senate as “certainly not helpful.”

“I think we’ve seen the last of men like my husband,” McCain said, “at least for right now.”

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