Breaking News
More () »

McCain's new book delivers straight talk from a man running out of time

Cancer-stricken senator takes on Trump, Arpaio and Obamacare vote

Sen. John McCain's new memoir is written by a man who knows his time on this Earth is running out.

The 81-year-old senator is battling a deadly form of brain cancer. McCain was diagnosed 10 months ago; the median survival rate is 14 months.

In "The Restless Wave," the six-term senator delivers some straight talk - perhaps for the last time - about his vision of American exceptionalism and presidential leadership.

"I'm not sure what to make of President Trump's convictions," McCain writes.

The Arizona constituents McCain has served for 36 years might be more interested in his one-sentence takedown of Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio; his second-guessing of his selection of Sarah Palin as his presidential running mate; and his defiance of Arizona's governor when he turned thumbs down on the GOP Obamacare repeal.

The most moving passages in the book are McCain's reflections on his fate and his farewell to his family.

"I don't know how much longer I'll be here. Maybe I'll have another five years," McCain says in the audio book, his voice weakened by illness.

"Maybe I'll be gone before you hear this. My predicament is, well, rather unpredictable."

LISTEN: McCain reads excerpt from new memoir, 'The Restless Wave'

Some takeaways from the book, co-authored with McCain's longtime literary collaborator and aide Mark Salter:

Takedown of Trump & Arpaio

There's a single-sentence takedown of both President Donald Trump and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. McCain attributes Trump's narrow 2016 victory in Republican Arizona to polls showing 9 in 10 Latinos voted against him. McCain writes:

"That isn't terribly surprising, given (Trump's) insulting references to unauthorized immigrants and the hard positions the state adopted in recent years to punish and apprehend them, exacerbated by the offensive statements and policies of Maricopa County's notorious former sheriff, convicted felon Joe Arpaio."

The senator's attack on Arpaio is unusual. McCain shied away from criticizing the former lawman while Arpaio was in office.

Also, Arpaio is not a "felon." He was convicted of a criminal misdemeanor for intentionally ignoring a federal court order.

Regrets Not Picking Lieberman

McCain defends his pick of Sarah Palin as his 2008 running mate for president. But he regrets accepting aides' advice to drop his first choice - former Democratic senator, Al Gore running-mate and close friend Joe Lieberman:

"My gut told me to ignore it and I wish I had … A McCain Lieberman ticket would have been received by most Americans as a genuine effort to pull the country together."

Obama Called After 'No' Vote

McCain isn't second-guessing his stunning thumb's down last July, when he slammed the Senate door on Republicans' Obamacare repeal:

"People made a big deal about the drama of the moment, but it didn't feel that dramatic to me. That's how I always vote ... It was a hard vote that I didn't make easily, but not one I would hesitate to make again."

President Barack Obama called McCain after the vote to thank him:

"I appreciated his call, but as I said, my purpose hadn't been to preserve his signature accomplishment, but to insist on a better alternative."

McCain had returned to the Senate just two weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot, and receiving the diagnosis of brain cancer.

While McCain disdains the drama attached to his vote in the early morning hours of July 28, he recounts the hours leading up to it in detail.

The book also reveals McCain's defiance of Gov. Doug Ducey's wishes on the repeal.

McCain writes that earlier on the day of the key vote, Ducey told him that the bill, known as the "skinny repeal," "was worth voting for."

Late in the evening, McCain writes, he was summoned to the Senate cloakroom to take a call from Ducey.

The governor and others were delegated to try to change McCain's mind, after he had informed top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he was a likely "no" vote.

McCain wasn't persuaded.

Poignant Farewell to Family

On the book's final page, McCain shares a poignant farewell to his family:

"I leave behind a loving wife, who is devoted to protecting the world's most vulnerable, and seven great kids, who grew up to be fine men and women. I wish I had spent more time in their company. ... Their love for me and mine for them is the last strength I have."

McCain is recovering at his home near Sedona, after surgery for complications resulting from his brain cancer. He has not been seen in public since leaving Washington last December.

"The Restless Wave" will be released May 22. 12 News received an advance copy.

The senator voices a three-minute portion of the audio book. Actor Beau Bridges voices the rest of the book.

Before You Leave, Check This Out