To any South Carolina Republicans who may read this, I ask you, one patriot to another, to reject the slanderous and scandalous attacks on John McCainJohn Sidney McCainArizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief MORE's service in Vietnam, and to reject any similar attacks, by anyone, against anyone who served, regardless of party.

As someone who has seen many senators come and go in Washington, and who has spent a lifetime supporting our troops and vets, I can only say that John McCain is one of the greatest American patriots and American heroes I have ever seen in this city, where heroes are sometimes in short supply.

It is true that I am a Democrat in the tradition of John F. Kennedy, and have as much influence with South Carolina Republicans as a Tar Heel at a Gamecock rally. Please consider first that I am arguing against my own political interest here, which is that Republicans nominate their weakest general election candidate, while I believe that John McCain is their strongest.

I will not be voting for McCain or any other Republican in the general election, but I also believe that American politics desperately needs an infusion of honor, and that the honorable thing to do, for me and others who know the facts, is to tell the truth, regardless of politics.

John McCain served our country in the uniform of the United States Navy with incredible valor, incredible honor and incredible patriotism.

At a time when so many evaded their moment of service, John McCain charged into the battle, fought bravely with the band of brothers and sisters, and showed his courage in combat and in his varied experiences, on land, at sea and in the air.

As a prisoner of war, John McCain sufffered indescribable hardships and pain, and conducted himself with indescribable honor, even refusing the opportunity offered by his captors to leave his prison early, because he believed in codes of military honor and refused to take advantage of any benefits from his family's high rank of service.

Anyone who comes from a military family descended from captains and admirals, as John McCain does, knows what a tall tree this is to climb.

Unlike many blowhards who build themselves up, and like almost every authentic hero I have ever known, John McCain is modest, humble and self-effacing in describing his own heroism.

But McCain, coming from a lineage of highest ranking officers in the Navy, did his family proud, did his service proud and did his country proud, acting with nobility despite the pain and price that travels with him to this day.

For any who may doubt my views as a Democrat, follow Reagan and trust but verify.  Go the website vetsforfreedom.org, a group far more conservative than I, and consider their testimony on behalf of the heroism of John McCain.

From the begining of this war in Iraq, a war I did not support initiating, the one proposition I have stood for and fought for, with Democrats and Republicans alike, is that when we send our troops to war we must give them every
supply they need, every support they deserve and when they return home as vets, we should stand with them for a lifetime.

Throughout this war, I have been ready to challenge, support, criticize, pray for and try to persuade any Democrat or Republican to give our troops the body armor, the Humvees, and everything else they must always have while they fight, and deserve when they return.

I have often stated my views that both parties have been insufficient in providing this support and have proposed a Soldier Bond, modeled after the war bond of the 1940s, that would enable those who support and those who oppose the current policy to unite in meeting the $500 billion of long-term needs for troops, vets and their families that are not currently being met, or planned.

I make this point to say this: Of all of the legislators in Washington, I do not know of one lawmaker who has been more totally committed, yesterday, today, tomorrow and for a lifetime than John McCain in support for our troops and vets.

This issue is beyond political party, and beyond our individual views, pro or con, regarding the merits of the war.

Win or lose this campaign, John McCain will be there for troops and vets, today, tomorrow and forever because this is in his heart, his soul, his spirit and the essence of John McCain as a man and a patriot.

I will not support John McCain in November because I am a Democrat with different views on many issues, though we share agreement on some.

But I implore you: Vote for McCain or against him on the merits of the case but do not let anyone slander or smear this good and patriotic man who has been willing to pay any price and bear any burden in the service of our country.

There you have it ... I have said my piece, and done my duty, as a matter of honor, to tell you the truth, as I believe it to be, regardless of politics or party.

John McCain is a true American hero, and whether you agree with him or not, and whether you vote for him or not, do not let anyone tell you otherwise, because on this matter we are neither red nor blue, but red, white and blue for the truths that keep us free.