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John McCain: GOP will "pay a price" for personal attacks

Arizona Sen. John McCain worries that, should the current Republican presidential candidates continue flinging insults at one another, the cutting remarks could come back to haunt them in 2016.

"I think we are hurting ourselves and our chances to win the general election," McCain told CNN in an interview Sunday. "If we disparage each other and impugn the character of each other, then, after the primary is over, then obviously there's a trust and support deficit amongst the American people."

According to a new CBS poll, Donald Trump lea... 02:54

McCain, who himself faced a wide Republican field on his way to becoming a presidential nominee, said that, outside of the Beltway bubble, voters are frustrated with the personal attacks. And he fears that, if the White House contenders don't change in the upcoming election year, the GOP "will pay a price for it at the polls."

The Arizona senator wished that the current crop of GOP hopefuls would conduct themselves more like the Ronald Reagan, who famously followed the 'Eleventh Commandment' -- a rule that forbid speaking ill of any Republican.

"We can fight like blazes with each other where we disagree, but to impugn each other's characters and integrity is very harmful to each other, ourselves, and our chances of winning a general election," McCain said.

The race to the White House has become frequently more heated in recent weeks, with GOP front-runner Donald Trump attacking his rivals' demeanors as "low-energy," as he's done with Jeb Bush and Ben Carson, and insulting their physical appearance, as with Carly Fiorina. His Republican opponents have also fired back, with Bush launching the harshest critiques and saying the billionaire businessman "needs to act like a serious candidate."

Other candidates in the Republican race admit that campaigning gets to be "very personal in nature."

"These campaigns, as you know, are very personal in nature, as well as being a national event," Christie said Sunday in an ABC News interview. "That every candidate has to make that decision for themselves."

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