McCain Takes Back ‘Wacko Birds’

Photograph by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) talks to reporters at the Capitol on October 8, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the famously sarcastic longtime senator and erstwhile Republican candidate for president, says he regrets calling some of the more intransigent members of his party “wacko birds.”

Ten days into a partially shuttered government that has exposed deep rifts within Republican ranks, McCain said today that he’s worried about his party’s future and the infighting dividing it. That includes efforts by conservatives to unseat incumbent Republican lawmakers, he says, calling that “wrong.”

“I do worry about the Republican Party,” McCain said at a Hero Summit hosted by “The Daily Beast.” “It’s the first time I have ever seen Republican senators running ads, raising money that is being used to attack incumbent Republican senators.”

He said he regrets calling the Tea Party wing of the Republican Senate conference “wacko birds” during budget negotiations, saying he’s learned to “never get personal” in political disputes.

Addressing a summit honoring military heroes, McCain, a former Navy bomber pilot who spent five-and-a-half years in a Vietnamese prison camp, denied that he is one. “It doesn’t take a lot of talent to get shot down,” he said, replaying a laugh line that he has employed in many campaigns. He said he “intercepted a surface-to-air missile with [his] own plane.”

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