Public Media for Central Pennsylvania
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

McCain Faces 'Serious Challenge' In Fight With Brain Cancer, Kerry Says


A brain cancer diagnosis for Senator John McCain is sadly familiar news for one of his friends. Former Secretary of State John Kerry is close to McCain. Kerry was also a Massachusetts colleague of Senator Ted Kennedy, who died of cancer.


Kerry spoke with us after word spread about McCain.

What have you been thinking as you've heard the news?

JOHN KERRY: Well, a whole range of different things, obviously. It's a serious challenge John faces, needless to say. And - but as many people have already said, if there's anybody up to any challenge, it's John. You know, having been through this with Teddy Kennedy, it's a complicated road. And, you know, my heart and all my thoughts are just with John in an effort to try to hope that there's some aspect to this or some component of it that's going to be more manageable than Teddy's was.

John's been such an integral part of a lot of things I've done and a lot of times we've all done over the last years, so I think everybody is feeling a personal side of this.

INSKEEP: I want people who maybe haven't followed his career as closely to understand why it's seen as so significant - his career and his position in the Senate and his health now. Even though you've been so different politically, what is something that the two of you have shared?

KERRY: Well, we've shared a lot of things, actually. I think we both share an outsider's view of governing challenges today, even though we've both been on the inside because I think we're both impatient people who have had a sense of frustration with the system and with the unwillingness to meet certain challenges.

We got to know each other and began to work together on some things, particularly on the normalization and lifting of the embargo with Vietnam. And John was willing to tackle things that a lot of other people weren't willing to tackle, so we found some common ground in strange places.

INSKEEP: Common ground on what strange places?

KERRY: Well, you know, he was - I think disagreed with my disagreements about the war in Vietnam. And - but nevertheless, when we got to the Senate, we were able to find an amazing sense of purpose in trying to end the war, really.

And I think we succeeded doing that because we've made peace with Vietnam. We've made peace with ourselves about Vietnam to a large measure. I mean, I visited the Hanoi Hilton with John McCain. And I can tell you, there is no experience like standing in a prison cell with a former prisoner of war and a friend of yours who's talking about what it was like to be there. So I (inaudible) great respect for John and the journey he has traveled.

INSKEEP: Is it a hard time to lose his services for however long they'll be lost?

KERRY: Well, who knows? I mean, I don't know - you know, I'm going to talk to John. And I don't know what, you know, the situation will be. I don't think we're going to necessarily lose his services immediately or that long. But I don't know the prognosis and the immediate effects, so I can't make that judgment completely.

But I know that Teddy Kennedy continued to stay deeply involved in health care and deeply involved even after his diagnosis. And I would anticipate that a guy like John McCain is going to do the - exactly the same.

INSKEEP: Secretary Kerry, it's good to talk with you again. Thanks very much.

KERRY: Thank you. Appreciate it.

INSKEEP: Former Secretary of State John Kerry. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.