“It’s gonna be a tough choice,” the senior senator from the Grand Canyon State said, laughing.
McCain said he’d “clairfy” by pointing out that Paul “represents a segment of the GOP, just like his father,” and “he is trying to expand that, intelligently, to make it larger.”
The senator, known for his aggressive foreign-policy stances, also insinuated that that Paul was part an “isolationist, America-Firsters” element of the GOP.
“Prior to World War I, it was Western senators, and then Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, and then Taft versus Eisenhower,” McCain said, saying also that “there was an isolationist wing that fought against Reagan.” According to McCain, the current sluggish economy “has exacerbated what has always been out there.”
McCain did apologize for calling a few of his younger colleagues “wacko birds” for their filibustering of now–CIA director John Brennan.
“I try and be respectful but also go out there and debate them every chance I get,” McCain said, and compared that relationship to the one he has with Senate majority leader Harry Reid, whom he said he’s beat up “regularly” over the last four years.
McCain did have kinder words for Senator Marco Rubio, whom he didn’t put in the same category as Cruz, Paul, and Mike Lee, insisting that Rubio “has a bright future in the party. He is a valuable candidate for president.”
“Some people say [the immigration-reform fight] will set him back, but remember, I got the nomination of the party after failing on immigration in 2007,” McCain, a member of the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration group, said.
McCain did offer real praise for Clinton, saying, “I think she did a fine job [as secretary of state]. She’s a rock star. She has, maybe not glamour, but certainly the aura of someone widely regarded throughout the world.”