Jack McCain speaks at ASU College Republicans event

McCain spoke to students about national security issues and the future of the Republican party

Jack McCain, the son of former Sen. John McCain and Afghanistan veteran and current military reserve officer among other roles, joined ASU College Republicans and other attendees over Zoom Monday night to talk about his role and insight into national security and the Republican party. 

Many members, both within College Republicans and outside of it, looked forward to Jack McCain coming in to talk, said Joe Pitts, president of ASU College Republicans. 

"We had a lot of interest in having someone who was such a great name and also willing to speak candidly about issues that are current right now," Pitts, a sophomore studying business, said. 

The event originally had an in-person element, but was moved completely online due to logistics issues, Pitts said. College Republicans had held its first in-person meeting two weeks ago. 

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Jack McCain is an expert in national security, having amassed a lengthy military career that sent him around the world. 

He talked about a variety of events during his time in the military, some more pleasant than others, and comments he heard about his father while serving in Afghanistan. 

He talked about one time during a 10- to 11-month tour, during which he described himself as "emotionally frayed," when former President Donald Trump made disparaging comments toward his father, John McCain.  

"I walk into the chow hall for the first real meal I've had that wasn't coffee, or an energy drink," Jack McCain said. "And on the television ... is the President of the United States, who is interrogating my dead father who had died a few months prior." 

Trump has made several inflammatory comments toward John McCain prior to and following his death. In 2019, the former president told a crowd in Ohio, "I have to be honest: I've never liked him much," seven months after the senator died. 

Jack McCain used these examples of hostility toward his father as moments that show how political discourse, especially on the internet, has become toxic. He believes people in political disputes now view the opposing side as "no longer human beings," and just "pictures of personalities or Twitter faces." 

When it came to discussing more uplifting subjects, Jack McCain told attendees about his father standing on guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, which was named after the senator.

"That symbolizes the idea of a strategic partnership," Jack McCain said. "It's flying the American flag, it's sitting in a foreign port, it symbolizes naval might, it symbolizes cooperation (and) it symbolizes the physical embodiment of national security." 

The meeting was discussion-based, with Jack McCain asking students about their own perspectives.

Jack McCain had a lot of questions for students regarding the future of the Republican party and what it stands for. 

Tristan Silva, a senior studying global studies and philosophy, said he hopes to see the Republican party "getting back to the original design of our government." 

Alyssa Lee, a junior studying global management and economics, spoke about what made her join College Republicans and what she wants to see in the Republican party.

"I see the Republican party shifting to be more for the common man and less about individualism," Lee said. 

Pitts hopes students took away a positive outlook into the future of the Republican party from the meeting.

"The future of the Republican party is still bright and this generation is going to be the change that we want to see in our party," Pitts said. "If we work together, we can fix this party." 

Toward the end of the meeting, Jack McCain gave attendees three life lessons: be humble, be inquisitive and if everyone agrees on something, be skeptical about it. 

"If you're sitting in a room, and whether it's a roomful of politicians or a roomful of people in the military, and everyone agrees, (then) there is something wrong," he said.

Reach the reporter at mcfisch4@asu.edu and follow @morgfisch on Twitter. 

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