May 21, 2018, 2:29 PM ET

'It's my life and my choice': John McCain said of medically-risky flight for Senate vote: Daughter

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Sen. John McCain's momentous "thumbs down" vote on Republicans' proposal to repeal Obamacare may not have happened if Meghan McCain had gotten her way.

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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.

PHOTO: Mark Salter and Teddy Kunhardt appear onThe View, with co-host Meghan McCain May 21, 2018.ABC News
Mark Salter and Teddy Kunhardt appear on"The View," with co-host Meghan McCain May 21, 2018.

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.

PHOTO: Mark Salter appears onThe View, May 21, 2018.ABC News
Mark Salter appears on"The View," May 21, 2018.

"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."

PHOTO: A still image from video shows U.S. Senator John McCain, who had been recuperating in Arizona after being diagnosed with brain cancer, acknowledging applause as he arrives on the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, July 25, 2017.SENATE TV/Handout via Reuters
A still image from video shows U.S. Senator John McCain, who had been recuperating in Arizona after being diagnosed with brain cancer, acknowledging applause as he arrives on the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, July 25, 2017.

"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."

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  • Corina

    Poor McCain, He really likes to be DISLIKED! until the end.

  • john

    He made it back to D.C. without his brain exploding. I guess this proves what most of us have known, the idiot never had a brain to worry about exploding, to begin with.

  • Bernard Sandan

    stupid decision now we suffer not him, he already made millions out of America, we lost, he wins ! rest in (maybe) peace ?
    Christ will be the judge.No wonder he didn't beat the Muslim Kenyan American born or not in USA who gave favors to Islam Iran.

  • SouthernCT

    I was done with this guy in 2008

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    His medical condition may cause an in-flight emergency that could affect the well-being of other passengers.

  • mikevietvet68/69

    trump's karma will come around soon,hope i'm here to enjoy the show.

  • rbba

    A selfless act would be for McCain to retire. Unless he is able to represent Arizona, and can show up, Arizona needs a working senator.

  • Martin Joseph

    On his deathbed or not, McCain is still a jerk. And why, exactly, is he still a sitting Senator ? Selfish to the end!

  • Grawmps

    Buh bye Songbird.

  • lou g

    Take that, Trump. Something you'd never do, but would brag that you would do it also. Just like you bragged if you were at the FL shooting you'd have gone in and confronted the shooter. Talk is big and you talk a lot.

  • End of Life Ritual

    Bah, many of these people hated McCain bitterly for decades but now on his deathbed they’ve made him their darling. That goes for some on both sides of the aisle too.