Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMarines reignite debate on women in combat Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Report: Prominent neoconservative to fundraise for Clinton MORE (R-Ariz.) is blasting GOP presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpDems find voice with disruption Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering US a moving target Clinton camp blasts Trump over Brexit response: 'He patted himself on the back' MORE's rhetoric on illegal immigration, and worries it has energized the party's fringe.
"It’s very bad,” McCain told the The New Yorker in an interview published Thursday.
“This performance with our friend out in Phoenix is very hurtful,” he said of Trump’s rally against illegal immigration in his state over the weekend.
McCain spoke to The New Yorker on Monday, two days after the real estate mogul spoke at a rally on July 11 that reportedly drew thousands in Phoenix.
The Arizona senator, though, said those in attendance reflect only a small segment of Republicans.
“We have a very extreme element in our Republican Party,” he said, noting that Arizona Republicans censured him in January 2014 for his stance on immigration.
“We’ll see how this plays out, but there is some anger in my state,” McCain added. “People who otherwise might be more centrist are angry about this border situation."
McCain also said in the interview that Trump’s momentum would halt once conservative voters learned more about him.
“He was a big Democratic supporter,” McCain said of Trump. “Some of this stuff is going to come out: he gave more money to Democrats than Republicans; he had Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonDems find voice with disruption 'Hamilton' to take center stage at Clinton fundraiser Clinton camp blasts Trump over Brexit response: 'He patted himself on the back' MORE at his wedding.”
“You know, he’s attacking Hillary Clinton after she was in the front row of his — I don’t know which wedding it was,” McCain quipped of Trump and Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.
McCain was part of the Gang of Eight that drafted a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed in the Senate but was never taken up by the GOP-controlled House in 2013.
He praised Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate Republicans may defy NRA on guns MORE (S.C.), another GOP White House hopeful and part of the Gang of Eight, for not abandoning their work on immigration after the conservative backlash over the bill.
“Lindsey said this is a moral test for our party,” McCain. “He put on a very strong performance. Lindsey never backed away from it.”
McCain noted that Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio: 'I didn't run for the Senate to run for president again' Sunday shows preview: Next steps after Trump upheaval O'Malley gives Trump a nickname: 'Chicken Donald' MORE (Fla.), another Republican 2016 contender, has edged away from comprehensive reform.
“Rubio backed away from it,” he said.