In 2008, when a town hall audience member made an insulting comment about then-Senator Obama, his opponent in the race for the White House, John McCain, said “no ma’am.” He simply took the mic from her and set the record straight.
Yesterday, John McCain once again took the mic – this time from the field of Republican candidates looking to follow him as their party’s nominee. On CNN’s State of the Union, McCain said that the tenor and tone of the Republican primary is damaging:
“I think we are hurting ourselves and our chances to win the general election if we disparage each other and impugn the character of each other then after the primary is over obviously there’s a trust and support deficit among the American people.”
He went further when asked if leaders have a responsibility to condemn bigotry when they hear it.
“Oh, yes I believe so…..I think there’s a lot of people in the party that are not happy about the tenor of some of the remarks and the allegations about each other.”
That followed a week in which the Republican field of presidential candidates continued trying to outdo one another at offending large swaths of the American people, from women, to Native Americans, to even refugees fleeing from war, just as they’ve done before with Asian-Americans and immigrants among others.
So in less than two weeks, the same ugly dynamics within the Republican Party pressured their House Speaker to resign and their 2008 nominee to distance himself from their presidential contenders’ rhetoric. If Republicans in Congress and those running for president want to prove they’re out of touch with the vast majority of the American people, they’re doing a heckuva job.
Hopefully the GOP candidates will take cues from John McCain this week.