‘BE BACK

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - DONNA CAS­SATA In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Lauran Neergaard, Nancy Benac, Erica Werner and Jill Colvin of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

soon,’ spir­ited Mc­Cain tweets.

WASHINGTON — Bat­tling brain cancer, John Mc­Cain on Thurs­day vowed to re­turn to the Se­nate, lev­el­ing fresh crit­i­cism at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and aim­ing a good-na­tured dig at Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic col­leagues shaken by news of his di­ag­no­sis.

“I greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the out­pour­ing of sup­port — un­for­tu­nately for my spar­ring part­ners in Congress, I’ll be back soon, so stand-by!” Mc­Cain said in a tweet. Show­ing no signs of step­ping back from po­lit­i­cal and na­tional se­cu­rity bat­tles, he is­sued a state­ment slam­ming the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion over its Syria pol­icy.

The 80-year-old Mc­Cain, the GOP’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in 2008 and a six-term Ari­zona law­maker, was di­ag­nosed with glioblas­toma, an ag­gres­sive type of brain cancer, ac­cord­ing to doc­tors at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, who had re­moved a blood clot above his left eye last Fri­day. They also re­moved all of the tu­mor that was vis­i­ble on brain scans.

The se­na­tor and his fam­ily are con­sid­er­ing fur­ther treat­ment, in­clud­ing chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion, as he re­cu­per­ates at his home in Ari­zona. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump called the se­na­tor on Thurs­day, said a White House of­fi­cial who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss pri­vate talks.

In a state­ment re­leased through his of­fice, Mc­Cain crit­i­cized the ad­min­is­tra­tion over re­ports that it was end­ing a pro­gram to as­sist Syr­ian op­po­si­tion forces fight­ing the govern­ment of Bashar As­sad.

“If these re­ports are true, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is play­ing right into the hands of Vladimir Putin,” said Mc­Cain, chair­man of the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee. “Mak­ing any con­ces­sion to Rus­sia, ab­sent a broader strat­egy for Syria, is ir­re­spon­si­ble and short-sighted.”

More sig­nif­i­cantly, Mc­Cain’s ab­sence com­pli­cated Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s plans for a Se­nate vote on a GOP health care bill to erase much of for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s law. A vote is pos­si­ble as early as Tues­day, but Repub­li­can de­fec­tions plus Mc­Cain’s likely ab­sence could sink any chance even to get started.

Mc­Cain’s clos­est friend in the Se­nate, Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, said they had spo­ken by tele­phone Wed­nes­day night and that the di­ag­no­sis had been a shock to Mc­Cain. But Gra­ham said “woe is me” is not in Mc­Cain’s DNA.

“One thing John has never been afraid of is death,” said Gra­ham, who said he ex­pects Mc­Cain to be back at the Capi­tol.

Be­fore a Thurs­day news con­fer­ence on im­mi­gra­tion leg­is­la­tion, Gra­ham said Mc­Cain called him three times.

“He is yelling at me to buck up, I’m so go­ing to buck up,” Gra­ham said.

It was un­clear how long Mc­Cain might be out. Ear­lier this year, Sen. Johnny Isak­son, R-Ga., missed sev­eral weeks af­ter un­der­go­ing back surgery. For­mer Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., was out for nearly a year af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke in 2012.

Mean­while, prayers and words of en­cour­age­ment flowed in Thurs­day from pres­i­dents and Se­nate col­leagues past and present.

“I called Sen. John Mc­Cain this morn­ing to wish him well and en­cour­age him in his fight. In­stead, he en­cour­aged me,” said for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, who pre­vailed over Mc­Cain for the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion in 2000. “I was im­pressed by his spirit and de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

For­mer Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas said: “Hav­ing known John for many decades, I am cer­tain that he is as tough as they come — if any­one can de­feat this, it’s him. John is a true Amer­i­can hero.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Brain Tu­mor As­so­ci­a­tion, more than 12,000 people a year are di­ag­nosed with glioblas­toma, the same type of tu­mor that struck Mc­Cain’s Demo­cratic col­league in leg­isla­tive bat­tles, the late Ted Kennedy of Mas­sachusetts. The Amer­i­can Cancer So­ci­ety puts the five-year sur­vival rate for pa­tients over 55 at about 4 per­cent.

Mc­Cain, a for­mer com­bat pi­lot, has a life­time of neardeath ex­pe­ri­ences — sur­viv­ing a July 1967 fire and ex­plo­sion on the USS For­re­stal that killed 134 sailors, flying into power lines in Spain, be­ing shot down in October 1967 and fall­ing into Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi, and en­dur­ing 5½ years in a North Viet­namese prison.

“The Hanoi Hil­ton couldn’t break John Mc­Cain’s spirit many years ago, so Barbara and I know — with con­fi­dence — he and his fam­ily will meet this lat­est bat­tle in his sin­gu­lar life of ser­vice with courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion,” said for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush.

Com­ment­ing on both Mc­Cain and the re­sponse, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, “The out­pour­ing of bi­par­ti­san re­spect and love for John Mc­Cain as he faces this cancer bat­tle re­minds us that af­ter all the mean­ness there is a hu­man side to politi­cians. Count this Demo­crat in John Mc­Cain’s cor­ner.”

In the past, Mc­Cain had been treated for melanoma, but this pri­mary tu­mor is un­re­lated. Doc­tors said Mc­Cain is re­cov­er­ing from his surgery “amaz­ingly well” and his un­der­ly­ing health is ex­cel­lent.

Mc­Cain

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