McCain: Trump 'fired up the crazies'

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Arizona AG Mark Brnovich launches Senate challenge to Mark Kelly Arizona Democrats launch voter outreach effort ahead of key Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.) is blasting GOP presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC 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.


“Because what he did was he fired up the crazies,” McCain continued. “Now he galvanized them. He’s really got them activated.”

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 Diane Rodham ClintonProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Hillary Clinton backs Manhattan DA candidate in first endorsement of year NSA leaker Reality Winner released from federal prison 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 Olin GrahamProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Senate confirms Garland's successor to appeals court Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema 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 Antonio RubioPast criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin Five years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues MORE (Fla.), another Republican 2016 contender, has edged away from comprehensive reform.

“Rubio backed away from it,” he said.