Support pours in for John McCain after brain cancer diagnosis

Veteran senator says he will be ‘back soon’ as Trump and former presidents wish him well

Senator John McCain (80) is considering treatment options including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Photograph: EPA

Senator John McCain (80) is considering treatment options including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Photograph: EPA

 

Messages of support from across the political divide poured in for Senator John McCain on Thursday following confirmation that he has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The veteran senator and former presidential candidate was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a common but malignant form of brain cancer, following an operation to remove a blood clot from above his eye last weekend.

His office confirmed that he was now considering treatment options including chemotherapy and radiation and is recovering at home in Arizona. He was said to be “in good spirits”.

Mr McCain (80) has been a stalwart of American politics for decades and a highly popular figure in the Senate.

During the Vietnam War he was detained for more than five years at a North Vietnamese camp after his plane was shot down. He was confined and tortured at the camp. Decades later he still has limited movement in his arms and knees following the experience.

He ran as the Republican candidate for the presidency twice – in 2000 and 2008, when he won the Republican nomination but was beaten by Barack Obama.

In a tweet on Thursday, Mr McCain expressed his intention to return to Congress soon: “I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support - unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress, I’ll be back soon, so stand-by!”

The current and former presidents issued statements wishing the Arizona senator well.

His former campaign rival Mr Obama tweeted: “John McCain is an American hero and one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”

Troubled relationship

Mr Trump, who has had a troubled relationship with Mr McCain, said in a statement that he and first lady Melania sent their thoughts and prayers to the Republican senator. “Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” he said.

In an interview in 2015 Mr Trump appeared to question whether Mr McCain could be described as a war hero because he had been captured in Vietnam.

“He’s not a war hero,” Mr Trump said in the July 2015 interview. “He’s a war hero because he was captured”, adding: “I like people that weren’t captured.”

Mr McCain, alongside his friend Lindsey Graham, the senator from North Carolina, has regularly criticised Mr Trump’s policies, particularly suggestions of any connection between the Trump administration and Russia.

A member of the armed services committee, Mr McCain has long been a senior figure in US foreign policy, regularly travelling abroad.

Mr McCain’s absence from Congress comes as Republicans struggle to push through a range of legislative measures, not least healthcare reform.

His daughter, Meghan, a Fox News commentator and author, issued an emotional statement on Wednesday night as the news was confirmed: “He is the toughest person I know. The cruellest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he is meeting this challenge as he has had every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways: but it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.”