MANCHESTER, N.H. -- With Republicans in turmoil over who will become the next Speaker of the House, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) voiced his concern on Sunday that the disarray in GOP ranks will carry over into 2016.
“I just worry a great deal about the effect it’s going to have on the next election,” McCain told The Huffington Post. “People do expect us to govern. I think it’s a degree of unrest and dissatisfaction amongst our base that we have not seen before. I think the closest thing to this probably was Ross Perot.”
McCain was in New Hampshire for a weekend campaign swing alongside his close friend Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), whose presidential candidacy he has endorsed.
After a two-week period saw, in quick succession, the resignation of current Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) startling withdrawal from the race to succeed him, rifts within the Republican caucus have been torn wide open with no obvious answers in sight.
In the interview, McCain added his name to the long list of Republicans who are encouraging Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) to place his name in the running for the speakership. But the Arizona senator also expressed some doubts over whether the 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee could fully unite the House’s most conservative members.
“I’d like to see it, but I’m sure the question Paul Ryan is asking himself is, ‘Can I get the allegiance of these Freedom Caucus guys?’” McCain said. “I’m not sure it’s clear that he can. By the way, I’m a great admirer of Paul Ryan.”
McCain spoke to HuffPost as he prepared to embark on another day as the most prominent campaign surrogate for Graham in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
The senator won the New Hampshire primary in both of his own presidential runs and remains a revered figure here.
Though he conceded that he wished Graham’s current standing in the polls were better, McCain noted that New Hampshire voters are famously late to decide and that Graham still has time to work his way into the mix.
“Now, it seems everything is focused on debates,” McCain said. “The beauty of New Hampshire is that people aren’t swayed by anything but their personal experience or their friends’ personal experience, which is what campaigning should be all about.”