McCain: Nasty primary is hurting GOP bid to win White House
© Francis Rivera

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Biden on Graham's push for investigation: 'I don't know what happened' to him MORE (Ariz.), who won the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, says Republicans running for the White House need to cool the personal attacks against each other.


He warned Sunday that nasty personal attacks could put Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office and admonished GOP candidates to remember Ronald Reagan’s so-called Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

“I think we’re hurting our chances to win the general election if we disparage each other and impugn the character of each other. Then after the primary is over, then obviously there’s a trust and support deficit among the American people,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Republican White House hopefuls have disparaged each other in increasingly personal terms in recent months.

Front-runner Donald Trump has set the tone, repeatedly knocking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for having low energy and even mocking businesswoman Carly Fiorina’s face.

Fiorina, in turn, has dismissed Trump as an “entertainer.” Bush has accused Trump of attempting to influence him with campaign contributions while serving as Florida’s governor to support casino gambling.

McCain says GOP candidates will hurt the party’s chance of capturing the White House by tearing each other down.

“I wish we would think about Ronald Reagan and the way he conducted his campaigns. We can fight like blazes where we disagree but to impugn each other’s characters and integrity is very harmful to each other, ourselves and our chances of winning a general election,” he said.

Feuds have broken out between other candidates.

Tensions are building between Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who both need to do well in Florida’s winner-take-all primary to keep their presidential hopes afloat, and between Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who are competing for Tea-Party voters.

Bush has said Rubio lacks leadership skills and likely wouldn’t be able to get things done as president.

Paul told “Kilmeade & Friends,” a Fox News radio program, last week that Cruz has paralyzed himself in Senate by picking fights with his colleagues.

“He is pretty much done for and stifled and it’s really because of personal relationships or lack of personal relationships,” Paul said.

McCain warned these attacks could boomerang on the party after the primary.

“I sense a great dissatisfaction with Washington here in Arizona but I also hear a lot of dissatisfaction with one the issues being discussed which are not particularly relevant and two the person attacks being made and I’m afraid we’ll pay a price for it at the polls and I hope we’ll change,” he said.