Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State Arizona GOP blocked from changing rules on filling McCain's seat MORE (R-Ariz.) told The New Yorker he would support Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP anxiety grows over Trump’s Iran decision Overnight Defense: VA nominee on the ropes | White House signals it will fight for pick | Trump talks Syria with Macron | McConnell tees up Pompeo vote Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) for president if Paul is the Republican nominee. 

“I’ve seen him grow, and I’ve seen him mature, and I’ve seen him become more centrist," McCain told The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza, who wrote a long profile of Paul.

"I know that, if he were president or a nominee, I could influence him, particularly some of his views and positions on national security. He trusts me particularly on the military side of things, so I could easily work with him. It wouldn’t be a problem.” 

Paul and McCain have had a testy relationship at times. McCain once referred to Paul and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCambridge Analytica whistleblower briefs House Dems After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp Cruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump MORE (R-Texas) as "wacko birds" because of their differences over foreign policy. 

And in the New Yorker profile, the veteran senator says he was unhappy when Paul accused him of meeting with ISIS members, a claim that has been widely debunked.

“It is disappointing that he would pick up and legitimatize what was clearly information that was being pushed by people who are enemies of the United States.” McCain said of Paul.

The Arizona Republican criticized Paul's views on ISIS, even though Paul supports airstrikes against the group. “He said we have to destroy ISIS, and yet he has not described a strategy in order to achieve that goal," McCain said.

Separately, the profile reveals that Paul has talked with President Obama about a proposal to end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. “I talked to him last week and said, ‘I will help in any way I can,' " Paul said.

Paul has made reducing what he views as overly harsh criminal justice provisions a centerpiece of his views and has reached out to African-American groups about the issues. 

New York Times story in January, though, linked Paul to an institute that raised money with the help of his father, Ron Paul. The story reports that scholars from the institute have "championed the Confederacy."

Rand Paul told The New Yorker that he was "really disappointed" in this article. 

There was a quote “from some guy who I’ve never met saying something about how slaves should have been happy singing and dancing because they got good food or something. Like, O.K., so now I’m in the New York Times and you’re associating me with some person who I don’t know.”

 “It’s one thing to go back and interview my college professor or groups that I actually was with," he continued. "But I was never associated with any of these people. Ever. Only through being related to my dad, who had association with them.”