The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (2)
Three years after Sen. John McCain's death in August 2018 from an aggressive form of brain cancer, Cindy McCain says her late husband would be "very disappointed" in the current state of the Republican Party.
During an interview with Stephen Colbert on Monday night, Cindy said the GOP "seems to be rewarding bad behavior and then trashing those who tell the truth."
Cindy, 66, was speaking specifically to the news that the GOP had voted out Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from her position in Republican leadership after her continued criticisms of Donald Trump's election lies.
"I think she's handled herself beautifully, I really do," Cindy said, when asked if she had any advice for Cheney.
Cindy continued by directing criticism at the Republican party at large: "It's odd, now our party seems to be rewarding bad behavior and then trashing those who tell the truth and are honest about what's actually going on. We have lost our way. Our party is in such disarray right now."
While she said she had "great faith" in the Republican party finding its way back, Cindy admitted "it's going to take a while."
Asked if she thought her late husband would be surprised by the current Republican party's seeming unwillingness to distance itself from Trump, Cindy said: "I feel deep in my heart that John would be very disappointed in what's going on and the lack of courage on the part of so many of our senators and congressmen to stand up to what this is."
Acknowledging that it was going to be "a long road" to get back to the party that her late husband served, Cindy said the GOP has "been compromised in so many different ways, and we're no longer practicing what we used to be, and that was the party of inclusion, the party of decency and debate that was not personal. And we're so far astray right now, it's awful."
Speaking to Colbert, Cindy said that one of the reasons she cast her vote for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election was the "lack of character, lack of decency, and lack of empathy" that she saw from former President Trump.
Cindy officially endorsed Biden in September 2020, writing in a tweet that she felt the Democrat would "lead us with dignity."
"My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost," she wrote. "There's only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is @JoeBiden."
"We're probably the only husband-and-wife team to have been completely thrown out of our party. I wear it as a badge of honor, believe me," she laughed.
In the wake of her endorsement of Biden, some have wondered whether Cindy might get more involved in the new administration, with reports suggesting she is being eyed as a U.N. aid ambassador.
Speaking to PEOPLE ahead of the release of her new memoir, Stronger, Cindy demurred when asked to comment on those reports, saying "I'm deeply grateful to be considered for anything," and "I haven't given up on the [Republican] party."
She offered a similar vague response when asked about those rumors by Colbert.
"When I agreed to support Joe Biden and to endorse him, I meant that with every fiber of my being in whatever way I can help. And if he should so choose to place me someplace and to give me the opportunity, I would be deeply honored," she said. "When a president asks you to do something, you can't really turn him down."