BREAKING NEWS Mandatory mask order begins for all of Madison County at 5 p.m. Tuesday Full Story

Graham on McCain: 'We're not talking about funerals'

Sen. Lindsey Graham flew to Arizona this week for a visit with his best friend John McCain that he thought might be h...

Posted: May 11, 2018 12:11 PM
Updated: May 11, 2018 12:11 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham flew to Arizona this week for a visit with his best friend John McCain that he thought might be his last.

McCain, who is suffering from brain cancer, had been hospitalized two weeks ago for a stomach infection and was in very bad shape when Graham was with him.

"Last time I saw him, he'd just gotten out of surgery and was really worried about him," Graham told CNN in an interview Thursday. "He went through some pretty tough surgery in his weakened condition."

But when Graham returned Monday, he said he was pleasantly surprised by the McCain he found.

"When I got there, [he had] gained weight, [he was] eating good. We watched our favorite western, 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence,'" the South Carolina Republican said, adding that McCain provided a running commentary that was "R rated," "but it was fun."

Not talking about retiring, or funerals

Graham returned to Washington on Thursday clearly determined to tamp down any talk of McCain's imminent demise. He said McCain did not talk at all about retiring from his Senate seat.

"It's a tough diagnosis, not going to sugar coat this, but the guy came through the surgery and he's getting stronger," said Graham.

"We talked about what we could do this summer. Maybe doing some events, if he gets a little stronger, at the McCain Institute. We were talking about the future. We're not at 2022 yet, but who knows," Graham mused.

"We're not talking about funerals," Graham said flatly. "I'm going back."

Cindy McCain shielding her husband

Graham said McCain's wife, Cindy, is managing the situation in a way that is allowing the Arizona Republican to regain his strength. Part of that means keeping news away from her husband that would upset him, such as reporting about plans for his funeral.

"Cindy has pretty much shielded him from that. She's pretty upset. We didn't talk about funerals," said Graham.

The New York Times first reported over the weekend that McCain associates have told the White House that President Donald Trump is not welcome at McCain's funeral. NBC News reported that former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have been asked to give eulogies, which CNN confirmed.

Reflective McCain

Just as other confidants have reported after seeing McCain at his ranch outside Sedona, Arizona, Graham described his friend as reflective and eager to reminisce. The two men have been close for two decades. They're kindred spirits on national security and their belief in strong American leadership around the world. They have traveled the globe together many times over to meet with foreign leaders and US troops.

"We had some great discussions about all the travels, talking about going to Iraq, and I couldn't remember who the general was, and he said, 'Its General Austin,' and I said, 'OK, thanks,'" Graham recalled, careful to say their time together was "reflective and forward looking, too."

"A lot of it was just talking about our relationships," Graham said.

They also talked a lot about McCain's new book, which comes out later this month.

"I think this is maybe his most important book," Graham said. "In the book ... he talks about isolationism. I think the biggest threat to world order is American isolationism and the rise of the strong men. I hope people read this book. I think it should be required reading for anybody who wants to serve in a democracy."

Trump

Some of McCain's longtime aides have been privately irked with Graham for reaching out to Trump and playing golf with him in attempt to forge a working relationship. During the 2016 campaign, Trump doubted McCain's status as a war hero, saying he believes heroes are those who don't get captured. McCain was a prisoner of war for five and a half years in Vietnam, and refused early release because it broke with protocol.

McCain downplayed that slight at the time, but he never saw eye to eye with Trump on foreign policy. In fact, McCain spent much of the first six months of Trump's presidency traveling the world, trying to reassure allies that the US will not abandon them.

When asked if McCain brought up with Graham his courting of Trump, Graham said "no."

"I think he understands that my job is to help the President. I'm going to help the President, and I'm going to say 'no' when I have to," Graham said.

CIA director

Though McCain and Graham are historically mostly in lockstep on matters of national security and personnel, the two split Thursday over Trump's choice to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, because of her CIA experience during the Bush administration, when "enhanced Interrogation," or torture, was deemed legal for terror suspects.

McCain and Graham publicly fought Bush and his team hard, arguing to outlaw torture. Now, McCain's arguing to colleagues that Haspel should be disqualified, but Graham said he told McCain he's wrong.

"Let just put it this way. Here's what I told John: You won. She said, Ms. Haspel, that the prior program hurt the CIA and the country. She wouldn't want to go back to it, that torture doesn't work and she is going to adhere to the law that Senator McCain and I helped author. She's a 30-year professional, and I think she's done a good job."

"When you put it in the big picture, John McCain won," Graham continued. "The new CIA director-to-be I hope rejects the programs that John McCain fought so hard to change and is going to adhere to the law that John McCain fought too hard to write, and that to me is winning."

Huntsville
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Florence
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 93°
Fayetteville
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 87°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 92°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 44375

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 51316

Reported Deaths: 645
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby11793200
Davidson11089122
Rutherford298735
Hamilton278135
Sumner161052
Trousdale14985
Williamson131315
Out of TN11857
Knox11717
Wilson94117
Putnam8837
Robertson83411
Sevier8043
Bradley7073
Lake6920
Tipton6455
Unassigned6351
Bledsoe6201
Bedford5705
Montgomery5547
Macon4654
Maury3543
Hardeman3434
Hamblen3404
Fayette3172
Madison2992
Loudon2871
Rhea2860
Dyer2511
McMinn23718
Cheatham2301
Blount2273
Dickson2090
Cumberland1814
Washington1650
Lawrence1636
Lauderdale1453
Anderson1422
Monroe1406
Jefferson1360
Gibson1291
Smith1201
Coffee1190
Sullivan1172
Obion1122
Hardin1087
Greene1032
Cocke940
Haywood922
Marshall911
Franklin873
Wayne860
Hickman800
Warren760
Marion734
McNairy730
White703
DeKalb670
Lincoln640
Weakley641
Grundy621
Overton621
Roane620
Giles601
Carter591
Hawkins572
Unicoi550
Campbell481
Carroll471
Henderson460
Claiborne450
Polk450
Henry440
Johnson440
Grainger420
Sequatchie420
Crockett383
Cannon370
Chester340
Perry340
Meigs320
Humphreys281
Jackson270
Morgan271
Stewart230
Decatur220
Fentress220
Union180
Clay170
Scott170
Houston150
Benton131
Moore120
Van Buren80
Hancock60
Lewis60
Pickett60

 

 

Community Events