PHOENIX — Sens. John McCain, Tom Cotton and Dan Sullivan said Thursday they will support the Republican nominee for president, even if it is Donald Trump.
“I’ve always said I would support the nominee of the party,” McCain (R-Arizona) told KTAR News 92.3 FM Mac & Gaydos. “It’s the party of Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt.”
Both Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Sullivan (R-Alaska) echoed the longtime senator’s words, though all were hesitant to say outright they supported Trump to lead the party’s 2016 attempt at the White House, instead opting for the phrase “Republican nominee.”
Trump, who is running unopposed for the nomination after Ted Cruz and John Kasich both dropped out of the race this week, is the party’s presumptive nominee and will likely square off against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.
Cotton said that, while he hopes Trump bears the “responsibility and opportunity to unite the party,” he is willing to support a nominee who can keep Clinton out of the White House.
“I’ve long said that I will support the Republican nominee because we cannot afford a third Obama-Clinton term,” he said.
McCain said a Republican president would avoid the “disaster” of a Clinton administration.
“I believe that four years of Hillary Clinton will be a disaster for this nation as far as national security is concerned,” he said.
Despite pledging their support for the nominee, all three senators made it clear they disagreed with Trump on some level.
“I have strong disagreements with Mr. Trump on a number of issues,” McCain said.
“There’s a number of things that I don’t agree with that Donald Trump has said on the campaign trail – some of his rhetoric, some of his policies, certainly some of his instincts on national security and foreign policy,” Sullivan said.
When asked if his support of Trump as the presumptive nominee was akin to an endorsement, McCain stopped short.
“I’m not clear, I’ll have to get out the dictionary,” he quipped. “I’m telling you: I’ll be supporting the nominee.”
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has been on the opposite side of the issue from his fellow state senator.
Flake has said in previous interviews that he would prefer former candidate Kasich over Trump and Cruz and told CNN on Thursday that some of Trump’s positions make it “difficult” for him to support the businessman.