John McCain admitted Donald Trump’s name at the top of the Republican ticket could threaten the Arizona senator’s reelection chances this fall, setting him up for “the race of my life.”
That’s according to a recording obtained by Politico of McCain speaking at a private fundraiser last month.
There, the 2008 GOP nominee signaled that Hispanic voters’ animosity toward Trump could pose a challenge for Republican candidates in Arizona and beyond.
“If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30% of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” McCain said at the event, per Politico.
“If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I've never seen in 30 years.”
McCain remains the favorite to snatch up his sixth Senate term against his likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, as Politico notes, and has made considerable efforts to work for immigration reform in his state where 22% of all eligible voters are Hispanic.
But McCain still expressed unease over a backlash Trump could provoke among Hispanic voters, who also make up significant chunks of the electorate in states like Florida, Nevada and Colorado — all of which host key Senate contests this year.
“Frankly there’s an element of nativism in it as well, as you know. The first wedge that Donald Trump had that gave him notoriety was, ‘Build a wall,’ ‘rapist,’ ‘murderers,’ etc.,” McCain said at the fundraiser in Phoenix, per Politico.
“And so, this is going to be a tough campaign for me.”
And while McCain himself has vowed to back his party’s eventual nominee, his top aide during his 2008 presidential bid said this week that he’ll support Hillary Clinton.
Follow Josh Hafner on Twitter: @joshhafner