The senator’s famous vote in July 2017 and the impassioned speech he gave that same week on the Senate floor came just about 10 days after he had brain surgery to remove a tumor, said Meghan McCain and the senator's biographer and longtime speech writer, Mark Salter, on "The View" this morning.
Doctors in Arizona warned the veteran senator against flying to Washington, D.C., for the health care vote because "basically your brain could explode if you get on a plane this soon after brain surgery," Meghan McCain recalled.
She opposed the trip and recalled an emotional moment in the hospital room at which Salter was also present.
"I was like, 'You're all crazy, he's gonna die'... and I was screaming which I don't normally do," Meghan McCain said on "The View."
But her dad was determined.
"He said 'It's my life and my choice!'" his daughter said, adding of the subsequent flight to Washington. "That plane ride was horrible."
The seriously ill McCain took the Senate floor on Friday, July 28, surprising his GOP colleagues and the public by voting no to the Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act, ending GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare.
That vote came a few days after the Republican senator helped his party leaders by assenting on a procedural vote on health care and gave a much-heralded speech urging his fellow lawmakers to overcome political polarization.
Salter, who co-authored Sen. McCain's latest book, "The Restless Wave," helped him write the speech.
"He had something that he wanted to say to the Senate, even before he was diagnosed," Salter said on "The View." "He does love the institution" of the Senate.
Also on "The View" today was documentary filmmaker Teddy Kundhardt, who produced and directed the upcoming film, "John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls."
Salter recalled the moment last year when McCain told him of the brain-cancer diagnosis. The two men were preparing the Senate speech and Salter had to press McCain for information about recent medical tests.
"I said, 'Well, have you gotten the results back?' and he said, 'Yeah,'" Salter said. "And I said, 'What did they say?'"
McCain said, "'Well not good,' and that's all he said at the time," Salter said. "He went right back to talking about the speech ... He wanted to get back to Washington and make that speech and make that vote."
"It was just typical, your dad," Salter said on "The View" to Meghan McCain.
Salter, who played a vital role in McCain's unsuccessful presidential bid in 2008, also discussed a decision from that time that he felt has been "misunderstood."
He said that in spite of reports to the contrary, McCain has never said that he regretted choosing then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate because of anything to do with her specifically. It was just that Palin wasn't his first choice, Salter said.
"He did want to pick his friend Joe Lieberman," Salter said, referring to the then-senator from Connecticut who at the time was a Democrat.
"That started to leak out to [GOP] party elders, I guess we could call them," Salter said. Then McCain's campaign advisers, including Salter, convinced him "not to pick Lieberman."
"He didn't regret choosing Gov. Palin, he regretted not picking Joe Lieberman," Salter said. "But once he was persuaded not to, he picked her and he's never said anything, never regretted it private or public since."