De­spite cancer, McCain’s press on in tweets

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL - By Melissa Daniels

Sen. John McCain’s legacy was thrust into fo­cus nearly one year ago when he an­nounced his brain cancer di­ag­no­sis. The six-term Se­na­tor and dec­o­rated Viet­nam War vet­eran is now fight­ing the ill­ness from his beloved Ari­zona, and fill­ing the role of one of the few Con­gres­sional Repub­li­can voices to pub­licly re­buke Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ci­sions.

Yet the ques­tion of what hap­pens if McCain steps down from of­fice be­fore 2022 is a lin­ger­ing one, cast­ing an un­com­fort­able haze around the fu­ture of a seat that can’t quite ever be filled.

“John McCain is a oneof-a-kind politi­cian, and there’s no re­plac­ing him,” said Stan Barnes, an Ari­zona Repub­li­can con­sul­tant. “No one serv­ing in po­lit­i­cal of­fice to­day re­mem­bers a time when John McCain was not rep­re­sent­ing us in Wash­ing­ton.”

Some Ari­zona Repub­li­cans have crit­i­cized con­ver­sa­tions about the fu­ture of McCain’s seat as in­ap­pro­pri­ate. But re­flec­tions around the 81-yearold states­man’s life, legacy and sta­tus as a na­tional po­lit­i­cal fig­ure have resur­faced via a new HBO doc­u­men­tary, “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and his new mem­oir, “The Rest­less Wave.”

The McCains have a fam­ily re­treat south of Se­dona, Ari­zona, along tree-lined Oak Creek. Daugh­ter Meghan McCain was mar­ried there.

She said on KTAR’s Mac and Gay­dos radio show Tues­day that she’s been try­ing to visit her fa­ther ev­ery other weekend. She said he’s strong, walk­ing, talk­ing and hang­ing in there.

“Ev­ery­body’s just deal­ing with it the best they can,” Meghan McCain said.

Fol­low­ing a dec­o­rated mil­i­tary ca­reer that in­cluded spend­ing more than five years in prison camps, McCain en­tered the po­lit­i­cal arena in the early 1980s. He went from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to be­ing elected to the Se­nate in 1986, fol­low­ing Barry Gold­wa­ter who re­tired. McCain gained a rep­u­ta­tion as a law­maker who was will­ing to stick to his con­vic­tions rather than go along with party lead­ers. It is a streak that draws a mix of re­spect and ire.

Matt Salmon, a former Ari­zona con­gress­man, said McCain was in­stru­men­tal in his own po­lit­i­cal ca­reer — along with count­less other Ari­zona Repub­li­cans. Much like Gold­wa­ter, McCain’s been “the god­fa­ther of Ari­zona pol­i­tics” for decades.

Salmon said McCain ex­em­pli­fies how to stand up for one’s con­vic­tions and con­stituents re­gard­less of the wants of party lead­er­ship. Dur­ing the late 1990s, Salmon drove a suc­cess­ful ef­fort to re­move Newt Gin­grich as Speaker.

“I don’t know that I would’ve had the courage to go do some­thing like that with­out a mav­er­ick like John McCain paving the way,” he said.

When Salmon was elected to Congress, McCain, as a men­tor, was sup­port­ive, loyal and quick to share his dry sense of hu­mor.

“He said to me, ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions Matt, now you’re part of the prob­lem,’” Salmon said.

/ AP-J. Scott Applewhite, File

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a closed-door ses­sion on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton in 2017. A pos­si­ble U.S. Se­nate va­cancy in Ari­zona would be tem­po­rar­ily filled by a Repub­li­can ap­pointee in the event of the death of Sen. John McCain, who is...

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