Transcript for Writer Mark Salter and filmmaker Teddy Kunhardt on their tributes to Sen. John McCain
about giving his opinion, but he is opening up in ways he never has before about his biggest professional and personal battles with help from our next guests. Please welcome co-author of my father's new book, "The restless wave," mark salter and the director of his new documentary, "For whom the bell tolls," teddy kunhardt. Thank you, guys. It's weird to have you here, mark, because I have known you literally my entire life. You met your wife in my dad's office. People call you my dad's alter ego, and you have written every book and speech of his forever. You were writing a different book, and then he was diagnosed and itchanged. It did, yeah. What was your reaction when he was diagnosed? Your dad told me he wanted to give the speech on the senate floor even before he was diagnosed and he had called about the speech, and I said, well, have you gotten the results back? He said, yeah. I said, what did they say? He said, not good. That's all he said at that time. I had to find out a couple of minute he meant by that. Was that emotional? Well, yes when I found out what it is, sure. When he said it to me, it was typical your dad. Like the day he hired me. He said, oh, by the way, I would like you to work for me too. He wa very cavalier about it and went back to talking about the speech. He wanted to get to Washington and make that speech and make that vote. So he just want right back to it and said, let's talk about the speech, and then we flew. You were on the plane too. We all flew and wrote the speech basically on the airplane flying back with him. That's great too. Teddy, you are an award-winning film maker. You have made films about martin Luther king Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Kennedy. It's not a shock to me you're doing senator McCain. There were two points he wanted to get across in this film. Tell us what they were. When we went down to Arizona, you know, I work with my brother and my father. Both producer/directors and we were walking with John and we said, look. What do you want to accomplish? He says, first and foremost, I want to tell the American people, you know, I'm not perfect. I want you to my imperfections. I want you to show when I screwed up. I want that to be public record. So he didn't want to hide anything. The second part he said, and this was even more important was that, you know, the senate needs to start working together, and mark achieved that with John in the speeches, but he really wants to pull the country back together, and if it's, you know, he kept on saying, this is my last fight, and we thought he meant cancer and he said, no. It's about pulling the country back together. When you came to us about the documentary, he had just been diagnosed and I remember having conversation with you where I was, like, we always do everything at an 11, so we should document what it's like. I was, like, if these guys are jackasses, this will be the worst decision, but your family was lovely, and when you screened my dad in the hospital a few weeks ago, I want to show a clip about his reaction from doctors. These doctors keep talking to me about people who if you tell them the truth, and then they just give upiero most and die. That you really want -- I keep saying to them, just tell me. Just tell me. That's all I want to know, you know? They say, well, it's not good. Well, it's just -- and it really drives me crazy, and then I talk to other doctor friends of mine and say, most people, that's not what they want to hear. Why wouldn't they want to hear it, you know? Why wouldn't they want to spend a few more days here, you know? Well, Meghan, actually eight days after hearing the cancer diagnosis, he returned to the senate floor to vote on the health care bill, and his doctors didn't want him to fly, and you didn't want him to fly. Mark was there. How did that conversation go? We had a conversation, mark. The thing I was saying last week about my father's -- mark is like an uncle to me, and we had this conversation where we said, your brain could explode if you get on a plane this soon after brain surgery. I was, like, you're all crazy. He is going to die, and I was screaming. Which I don't normally do. He said, it's my life. It's my choice, and by the way, there was a graph of, like, the lifeline of someone with glioblastoma. You said, this is how he lives and how he does everything. That plane ride was horrible, I will say. Why was it so important for him to be there? He had something he wanted to say to senate even before he was diagnosed, and I'm sure that had a greater urgency to it, but he wanted to say the senate has gotten away from its traditions of working together in a country of 325 million opinionated people, you can only work on progress by working together. That used to be the senate tradition. That was when he was a liaison officer to the senate, and he wanted to speak of his affection for the place because he has been called a maverick, but he does love -- he does love the institution he served in for over 30 years. I'm -- in the book and documentary, senator McCain looks back on 2008, and he voices that he regrets not having picked Joe Lieberman. That might have been misconstrued when people quote that. Can you clear that up? He wanted to pick his friend, Joe Lieberman, who is a Democrat, and the senator just wanted the Republican nomination for president, and when that started to leak out to party elders, I guess we can call them, they were quite adamant that there would be a challenge on the floor, and it would be a mess and your convention would be upset, and it would be a bad way to start the general campaign, so we prevailed. Me and other advisers convinced him not to pick Lieberman. He then went and looked at the pool of other candidates and chose governor Palin. He didn't regret choosing governor Palin. He regretted not picking Joe Lieberman, but then he picked her and never said anything. Never regretted it private or public since. I think that was misunderstood. Teddy, one of the most talked about moments from the 2008 campaign was when senator McCain stood up for president Obama after one of -- I love it. His supporters said, he was an untrustworthy Arab. You spoke to president Obama about this in the documentary. What did he say? Obama -- president Obama was touched, you know, in the middle of John being attacked from all sides, you know, to stand up for what he knew was right and to tell this woman, no, ma'am. Right away without missing a beat. No, ma'am. He is a good American citizen. Loves his family. Loves his family. His country. You know, it was -- it was a testament to John and his character that he wouldn't let the politics, you know, fuel the fire. Yeah. And Meghan, you said your dad remained positive throughout the diagnosis, and in the documentary, he talks about how he looks at the rest of his life. So let's take a look first. I know that this is a very vicious disease. I greet every day with gratitude, and I will continue to do everything that I can. But I'm also very aware that none of us live forever. I'm confident and I'm happy and I'm very grateful for the life I have been able to lead, and I greet the future with joy. What are you hoping for? What do you hope your dad's legacy will be? First of all, let me tell you it's beautiful. Thank you for doing a justice to him. I was nervous when you came out because it's very personal to have somebody come into your family at this time, and they were at our ranch, and it was very intense. His legacy speaks for itself, but I want to say, and mark, you and I have talked about this so many times. I'm just not scared of death the way I once was because I know now he is going to be waiting for me on the other side, and he has taught me what life is really about. He always has, but the last year in particular and he is so brave. And coming together as a country and not delving into this crap that we're at right now of divisiveness and not being able to speak to the other side, and we have no deasonsy, and death jokes are acceptable, and you never apologize, that is not the McCain way, and it will never be. That's not how we roll as Americans. That's not how we roll, and that's why Americans are so angry that this is -- that this seems to be the precipice we're on, but I think there is too many of us saying, oh, hell no. Oh, hell no. We can disagree, but we can never disparage each other that way. Mark, I love you very much. Teddy, you as well. Thank you. All right. Our thanks to mark salter and teddy kunhardt. The HBO documentary "John McCain: For whom the bell tolls" airs soon, and you are all going home with a copy of my dad's new book, "The restless wave."
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.