Skip to Content

Read John McCain’s Powerful Defense of the Integrity of American Elections

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain in UkraineSenate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain in Ukraine
Sen. John McCainPhotograph by Maksim Voytenko — Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Republican Sen. John McCain defended the integrity of the American election system and urged Americans to accept the outcome “even when you disagree” with it.

McCain, who lost the 2008 presidential election to Barack Obama, says he conceded defeat “without reluctance” even though he didn’t like the outcome.

Although McCain didn’t mention the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, by name, he was clearly responding to Trump’s refusal to say that he’d accept the results of the election, if he lost. As his poll numbers have slid, Trump has claimed the election is “rigged,” though he hasn’t presented any evidence of it.

McCain recently withdrew his tepid endorsement of Trump after a video surfaced of Trump bragging about groping women. On Thursday, McCain released a statement:

“All Arizonans and all Americans should be confident in the integrity of our elections. Free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power are the pride of our country, and the envy of much of the world because they are the means to protecting our most cherished values, the right to liberty and equal justice.

“I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance. A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility.

“Whatever our differences we owe each other that respect, which we express by defending the democratic values and practices that protect us all.

“I don’t know who’s going to win the presidential election. I do know that in every previous election, the loser congratulates the winner and calls them, ‘my president.’ That’s not just the Republican way or the Democratic way. It’s the American way.

“This election must not be any different.”