After spending two days with John McCain this week, his closest friend in the Senate wants the public to know this about the Arizona senator's health: "Don't believe what you read in the paper."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that he was "pleasantly surprised" during his visit with McCain on Monday and Tuesday in Arizona, where the ailing GOP senator is recovering from treatment from brain surgery. Graham said that McCain's mindset is: "Lindsey boy, one foot in front of the other."
"Don't believe what you read in the paper. I was concerned when I went, I'm thinking now about my next trip. No talking about funerals, we're not at 2022 yet," Graham said, referring to the year that McCain's term ends. "He's got a healthy appetite, healthy sense of humor, he's stabilizing. Great visit. We laughed, cried, we watched movies."
In private talks this week, several Senate Republicans said that they fear McCain won't return to Washington due to his battle with brain cancer. But he is staying engaged in the Senate's business while thousands of miles away, releasing a statement on Wednesday night urging his colleagues to reject Gina Haspel's nomination to be CIA director — a nomination that Graham supports.
While Graham and McCain reflected on Middle East policy and other serious matters during the South Carolina senator's visit, the two did not discuss their disagreements on Haspel. Instead they watched the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" with "R-rated" commentary from the two, Graham said.
And Graham said he's itching to get back and spend time with his friend, deflecting a question of whether he expects McCain to return to Washington at some point.
"What I'm looking is for him to get his strength back, where he can have longer days of interaction," Graham said. "I'm looking forward to going back. It did more for me probably than him. It charged my batteries."