Both Ryan and McCain have tried to walk a similar tightrope with Trump: They regularly communicate that they disapprove of his candidacy and his continuous assault on political norms, but have refused to disavow him. Party unity is one reason why Ryan and McCain have not yet jumped ship, but Ryan and McCain are clearly guided by more practical (to put it nicely) instincts. McCain’s Senate seat is vulnerable and Ryan is facing a primary challenge a week from today and neither wants to piss off Trump’s active base, for fear that it could cost them. They’re trying to support Trump as little as they possibly can without incurring political cost.
That lack of backbone only makes it funnier that Trump announced that he would support neither of them in their reelection bids in an interview with The Washington Post. Trump straight up trolled Ryan and McCain. He threw Ryan—who had said, “I’m just not quite there yet” when asked if he would endorse Trump in the spring—under the bus, saying, “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now.” As for McCain, one of Congress’s biggest supporters of veterans and one of the most famous veterans in the country, he had this to say:
“I’ve never been there with John McCain because I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. He has not done a good job for the vets and I’ve always felt that he should have done a much better job for the vets. So I’ve always had a difficult time with John for that reason, because our vets are not being treated properly. They’re not being treated fairly.”
Trump is also refusing to support New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, claiming he doesn’t need her help to win the state.
There may or may not be political benefit here—fighting one’s own party, especially one’s own party’s leadership, often plays well in a country that really, really hates its legislative branch. But that’s not the point at all: For Trump, this is all about revenge. He wants to humiliate McCain, Ryan, and Ayotte and that’s the only thing guiding this decision.