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'Maverick' is back: Cindy McCain's Biden endorsement bucks party the way husband did

A new video shows Joe Biden and Cindy McCain connecting after her announcement. The senator's widow stressed she's not leaving the Republican Party.

PHOENIX — The "Maverick" is back.

John McCain's widow, Cindy McCain, is bucking Republicans in a way he once did.

"It is a maverick thing to do and I hope my husband thinks the same thing," she said during an early morning interview at her north-central Phoenix home.

McCain had been up all night prepping for interviews on network morning shows, after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had blurted out late the day before that she was endorsing him. 

A new Zoom video released Friday showed McCain in Phoenix explaining her decision, and Biden at his Delaware home thanking her. 

"In (the Trump) administration there is no character or integrity or values," McCain says. "That's why you're so important, because you represent all of those things."

The endorsement wasn't a complete surprise.

McCain's antipathy toward President Donald Trump was well-known, and the McCain and Biden families have known each other for decades. 

For the Democratic National Convention in August, Cindy McCain narrated a video of her husband's long relationship with Biden, predating McCain's election to Congress.

The former vice president delivered a stirring eulogy at a Phoenix funeral for Sen. McCain, and consoled Meghan McCain on "The View."

Cindy McCain's home is down the street from where she grew up and later raised four children with the senator. 

Blue Star banners hang on the wall in the den where we met - symbols of her two sons' service in combat, in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Family pictures ring the room. The family is growing: Meghan McCain is expecting her first child within the next two weeks.

Here's some of what Cindy McCain said during our interview: 

- If Sen. McCain were still alive, would he have been sitting next to her endorsing Biden?

"It's a good question, but I would hate to admit any of that. I don't know, obviously only the ultimate one knows, but I think (John McCain) would be very disappointed in what's going on in this country and obviously very concerned that we were not headed the right way." 

- Polling shows 90 percent of Arizona Republican voters are lining up behind President Trump. So who does she hope to appeal to?

"As a woman, as a grandmother as a business owner, I feel like Joe would have my back. Right now I don't feel like my president has my back.. I hope that people will maybe perhaps take a look at me and say, 'OK if she can do it, I can do it.'"  

- McCain conceded she likely wouldn't support everything a Biden administration might do. When I asked whether she might lose some friends over the endorsement, she emphasized that she hasn't changed her party registration - she's still a Republican. 

"I'm remaining a Republican and always have been a Republican. This isn't about party politics. This is about what's good for this country."

- She consulted with her children on the family's biggest political decision since Sen. McCain died two years ago: 

"We try to do everything as a family and kind of make these decisions as best we can. I felt I needed to consult them and they were all for it.... No one tried to stop me.... It's what we believe in as a family and as a country, that courage matters."

-Will she endorse Republican Sen. Martha McSally or her opponent, Democrat Mark Kelly, in their special election to fill out the remainder of Sen. John McCain's term?

"I'm not getting involved. I've talked openly about not getting involved in either race." 

-Should McSally speak out more strongly in defending John McCain from Trump's attacks? 

"Anyone, not just her, but I think anyone needs to follow their heart and follow their compass and do what they believe is right. That's exactly what I'm doing."

- She gave Gov. Doug Ducey a heads up. Ducey's called on Cindy McCain for different initiatives and given her a place of honor at special events.

"I spoke to him just to let him know what I was doing out of courtesy, and it was a fine conversation."

A spokesman for Ducey, who is Trump's honorary campaign chairman in Arizona, said the governor's private conversation would remain private.

- It was clear Cindy McCain is done with Donald Trump's five years of insults directed at John McCain and the family.

An hour before my early morning interview, Trump had tweeted: "I hardly know Cindy McCain ... Never a fan of John. Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!"

"I don't care," Cindy McCain said. "It doesn't matter to me."