The family of Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said on Friday that the U.S. senator, who has been battling brain cancer for more than a year, has stopped medical treatment for his brain cancer, a sign that the Republican war hero is most likely entering his final days. The 2008 Republican candidate for president, now 81, was diagnosed with brain cancer last July.
McCain’s family released this statement:
“Last summer, Senator John McCain shared with Americans the news our family already knew: he had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, and the prognosis was serious. In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment. Our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year, and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from John’s many friends and associates, and the many thousands of people who are keeping him in their prayers. God bless and thank you all.”
“My family is deeply appreciative of all the love and generosity you have shown us during this past year,” Meghan McCain tweeted today. “We could not have made it this far without you – you’ve given us strength to carry on.”
Mr. McCain had been undergoing treatment since July 2017, and has been absent from Washington since December. Mr. McCain’s family has gathered in Arizona, and people close to him say his death is imminent.
From his ranch in Arizona, Mr. McCain had managed to maintain a voice in key foreign policy and military policy debates, sharply criticizing President Trump after his summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, an old adversary of Mr. McCain. At home, he has welcomed close friends to renew ties. But after decades as a fixture in Washington and a larger-than-life character, he had largely retreated from the public eye.
The son and grandson of four-star Navy admirals who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Mr. McCain rose to become one of the towering figures in American politics, twice seeking the presidency and winning the 2008 Republican nomination for president. In the Senate, he has been both revered as an iconoclast and criticized by many, including Mr. Trump, for his willingness to buck his party on issues like campaign finance reform and, last summer, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
President Donald Trump ignored Sen. John McCain during his only public remarks Friday, declining to say anything about the former prisoner of war and 35-year veteran of Congress who has decided to end his treatment for terminal brain cancer.
At a fundraising dinner for the Ohio Republican Party in Columbus Friday night, Trump reiterated the staples of his stump speech, touting his economic record, railing against illegal immigration and insulting a series of prominent Democrats.
The president even gave shout-outs to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West. But he said nothing about the Arizona Republican.
Trump’s silence about his fellow Republican — a frequent critic who the president often mocks at his campaign rallies — stood in jarring contrast to a bipartisan national outpouring of esteem Friday afternoon for McCain, who endured torture after his Navy plane was shot down in Vietnam and who launched a political career that saw him rise to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, after his family announced he had opted to stop being treated for cancer.
“I would just ask each and every one of you to hold John McCain in your prayers,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a tax policy event in his home state Friday. “John is obviously entering the last stages, and this is a man who served our country in so many ways and capacities —who was a prisoner of war for several years at thee Hanoi Hilton, and then fought for us in Congress, and we just want to keep John McCain, Cindy and their entire family in our prayers.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas and Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., all mentioned McCain Monday.
Mitch McConnell, who at times broke with McCain on issues like immigration and healthcare, said he was “very sad to hear” the announcement from McCain’s family.
“We are so fortunate to call him our friend and colleague,” he said in a tweet. “John, Cindy, and the entire McCain family are in our prayers at this incredibly difficult hour.”
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), one of his closest friends and allies in the Senate, praised McCain’s family for their “continuing and abiding love, care and dedication.”
“The entire McCain clan is doing exactly what the McCains have done through generations — rise to the meet the challenge,” Graham said in a statement.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, said McCain was “still inspiring us [with] his courage, grit, determination & grace.”
“Scarred but never broken, John has always defied the odds,” he said in a tweet. “I’m not in denial, just in awe of my friend & a true patriot. Thank you for everything, Mr. Chairman.”
Mitt Romney, a fellow GOP presidential candidate in 2008 who later endorsed McCain, said that “no man this century better exemplifies honor, patriotism, service, sacrifice, and country first than Senator John McCain.”
And John Kerry — who served with McCain for decades in the Senate before going on to be secretary of State during the Obama administration — said the GOP senator has shown Americans what “the words grace and grit really mean.”
“God bless John McCain, his family, and all who love him,” Kerry said. “A brave man showing us once again what the words grace and grit really mean.”
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) called McCain an “American hero.”
“Always putting country before self. From Vietnam to the halls of the U.S. Senate, the spirit of service and civility that has guided Senator McCain’s life stands as a model for all Americans, regardless of political affiliation,” Ducey said in a statement.
Neither Ducey nor McCain’s family indicated that McCain intends to resign from his Senate seat, and both sides have publicly admonished speculation about who will succeed him.
If McCain resigns or dies while in office, Ducey would be required to appoint someone to fill the seat through the next general election, in 2020.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who began his House service alongside McCain in 1983, recalled being able to fight with McCain one day and work with him the next.
“There were times when we were cursing each other and staring one another down and other times we were in a warm embrace,” Durbin said. “That was the nature of a relationship with John McCain. When he was by your side as friend and ally, you couldn’t have had a stronger ally, a stronger friend, and a better result.”
But Trump was never able to forge that kind of relationship with McCain, who called Trump’s supporters “crazies” during the 2016 election. Trump responded by questioning whether McCain was really a “war hero” because he was shot down.
“I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said in July 2015.
In recent months, as McCain has battled for his life, Trump has singled out the senator’s vote against an effort to repeal Obamacare to rile up his own anti-McCain supporters. And he did not apologize after reports this spring that a White House aide had mocked the senator’s cancer prognosis at a closed-door meeting.
Earlier this year, a source close to McCain confirmed that people close to the senator had told the White House that the Arizona Republican did not want the president to attend his funeral and wanted Vice President Mike Pence to come instead.