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Cindy McCain has supported the Republican presidential candidate in every election cycle since she was 18, but this year is different.

In a conversation with The 19th’s Washington correspondent Amanda Becker, McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, explained why she formally endorsed Democratic candidate Joe Biden for president. Since Trump’s inauguration, she watched what she called a “lack of integrity” and “lack of compassion” in the White House. But the “last straw,” she said, was when she read in The Atlantic that Donald Trump had allegedly called fallen members of the military “losers” and “suckers.”

“I have two sons and a daughter-in-law that are in [the military], and I find that not only revolting … but it downright angers me,” McCain said. 

When Trump was campaigning for the presidency in 2015, he said McCain’s late husband — a naval aviator — was “not a war hero,” because he was held as a prisoner of war for five years after his plane was shot down during the Vietnam War. “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump added. 

McCain said that Trump doesn’t understand the issues that military families face, or what it means to send young men and women into combat. Her late husband and Biden, who had a son in the military, knew each other for more than 40 years. The two legislators often disagreed on the Senate floor, but would then shake hands and grab a drink or dinner together, McCain said. 

“It’s time that we regain our civility, regain our trust,” McCain said. “We as Americans deserve that from our leader. We deserve that, and we’re not getting it right now.” 

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When asked why she decided to make her endorsement public, McCain said she found herself at home yelling at the television set, unwilling to let her grandchildren be in the room because of the “lack of civility and the crudeness that is taking place.” 

“I’m going to remain a Republican, but my party has left me right now,” McCain told Becker. “And I think our party is misguided in many ways, and so it’s time not only to make a change within the White House, but to elect a leader that truly is a leader, one that works for the good of the country and not for the personal gain or for a party.” 

She expressed frustration at the way Trump has ignored public health experts, falsely declared that the pandemic is ending and tried to discredit the validity of voting by mail — a process that Arizona has effectively used for years.

“I feel like women in particular want a president that will tell us the truth,” McCain said. “It might not be what we want to hear, but it’ll be the truth and so we’ll know what we’re dealing with.” 

I feel like women in particular want a president that will tell us the truth.

When asked what is on the ballot for women and what’s at stake this year, McCain said that women’s power as a voting bloc is “grossly underestimated.” Women make up more than half of the electorate and have been disproportionately impacted when it comes to the economy, child care and mental health — all which have been affected by the pandemic.

“Let’s be very clear: women bear the brunt of it,” McCain said. “And so for me, I want a president who has my health and safety, our health and safety, in mind.” 

McCain said she believed that the Republican Party was like a pendulum — it’s gone so far one way, but will swing back because it’s left so many behind. 

“I would hope that we can gather, as we move forward from this election, young people, young women and begin a new voice of Republican politics — a voice of inclusion and a voice of civility, which is most important,” McCain said.