Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) offered harsh words about her colleagues Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in an interview released Thursday, questioning whether either senator was qualified to be president.
Speaking on the "The Axe Files," a podcast hosted by former White House adviser David Axelrod, the Missouri Democrat accused Rubio of folding "like a cheap shotgun" on immigration reform and said Cruz isn't respected by his colleagues.
"I hate to speak ill of my colleagues. I think Marco is smart. I think he is capable. I watched him find that sweet spot of compromise on immigration reform, but then he broke down like a cheap shotgun the minute the right started chewing on his rear end," McCaskill said.
Rubio helped draft the so-called "gang of eight" immigration reform bill in 2013, but has since distanced himself from the legislation, which went on to die in the House. Cruz and other conservatives have criticized Rubio for supporting the bill, which would have provided a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. while also strengthening border security.
"He was like, 'What? Me? Immigration reform? Wasn’t me.' And that was really disappointing to me," McCaskill said of Rubio's reversal.
"That’s not what presidents are made of," she said. "Yes, you’ve got to be sensitive to where the country is, but you also have to lead. You have to lead. You can’t be led. You’ve got to lead.”
Turning to Cruz, McCaskill said she wouldn't be surprised if he won the nomination, but added that his colleagues don't respect him.
"It worries me a little bit because you don’t have to be popular with other senators, but you need to be respected by other senators if you have what it takes to be President of the United States," she said. "I mean, Barack Obama wasn’t popular with all the other senators, but he was respected. Marco is respected. I don’t think Ted has the respect of his fellow senators.”
McCaskill was an early supporter of President Barack Obama's candidacy and has endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The senator also had some criticism for Obama, saying that he sometimes failed to consider the perspective of lawmakers who might fear the political consequences of supporting a given issue.
"He is my friend and I am loyal to him," McCaskill said, "but one of the president's shortcomings is that sometimes he sees the world through his eyes and doesn’t do, I think, enough work on being empathetic about how other people view things."
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