What to Know
- Sen. John McCain says the fact that he's not running for Senate again makes him more able to vote his conscience
- His book also takes President Donald Trump to task for believing in "the appearance of toughness" over American values
- The book is being released May 22
U.S. Sen. John McCain is retiring at the end of his term after decades in Congress, giving him a sense of freedom about what he can vote on, he says in a book excerpt published this week by Apple News.
McCain, 81, was diagnosed with cancer in July, which the Arizona Republican writes helped him come to terms with the end of his Senate career. And he says the fact that he's not running for Senate again makes him more able to vote his conscience.
"This is my last term. If I hadn't admitted that to myself before this summer, a stage 4 cancer diagnosis acts as ungentle persuasion," he writes in the excerpt of "The Restless Wave." "I'm freer than colleagues who will face the voters again. I can speak my mind without fearing the consequences much. And I can vote my conscience without worry."
He noted that he still feels bound by pledges he's made to his constituents and wants the Republican party to do well. "But I do feel a pressing responsibility to give Americans my best judgment," he said.
Last year, McCain cast the decisive vote to scuttle a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, despite heavy lobbying from Trump and others in the party. He later explained that the bill was not a suitable replacement for "Obamacare" and sought a bipartisan congressional process to find a better one.
McCain has been spending time at his ranch in Arizona as he recovers from intestinal surgery in April and the treatment for a brain tumor he's been undergoing since his diagnosis. Former Vice President Joe Biden, a friend and longtime Senate colleague of McCain's, visited him over the weekend, according to McCain's wife, Cindy.
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McCain was re-elected in 2016, 30 years after first winning his seat. He also served for four years in the House of Representatives and was in the Navy for decades, including five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for which he was awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and other medals.
The book excerpt also touches on the "scarcity of humility in politics" he's seen recently in Congress and the country and takes President Donald Trump to task for believing in "the appearance of toughness" over American values.
McCain proudly refers to himself "a champion of compromise," calling it the only way to effectively govern an open society. And he offers advice on how to reform Washington, including a commitment to civility from everyone in the country and reforming gerrymandering and the campaign finance system.
But he also said voters should support compromisers over the kind of candidate for Congress who "pledges to ride his white horse to Washington and lay waste to all the scoundrels living off your taxes. ... It sounds exciting, but it's an empty boast and a commitment to more gridlock."
The book is being released May 22.