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Cover: Simon & Schuster

"The Luckiest Man: Life With John McCain," out Tuesday, is a fascinating reminiscence by Mark Salter, who was the late senator's closest aide for 18 years and collaborated with him on seven books.

"For all his chronic impatience," Salter writes, Sen. McCain "would persevere for years, decades in pursuit of a goal [including comprehensive immigration legislation] he believed was right and just. And he was drawn to people who did likewise, people who refused to accept permanent defeat, who held on to hope when experience taught them hope was for fools."

Among the news in Salter's book:

  • A 1993 scene in which Donald Trump, then a failing casino owner, unsuccessfully lobbies McCain outside the Senate: "Trump waited to buttonhole him. McCain walked briskly past the casino owner, pretending not to notice as Trump tried to get his attention. Frustrated, Trump shouted after him, 'I gave money to your campaign.' Looking over his shoulder, McCain yelled back, 'Oh yeah? See what that will get you.'"
  • McCain reacting to Trump disparaging him as "not a war hero": Salter called the senator "and cussed prolifically as I condemned Trump's character, intelligence, and appearance. McCain advised me to take it easy. 'All he did was get people to talk about what a hero I am all weekend. That's not my problem, it's his.'"
  • McCain calling Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) an asshole for killing consideration of McCain’s last defense bill by objecting to the debate, which McCain wanted to manage before starting cancer treatment: "[I]t's hard not to see it as an act of spite to prevent a Senate veteran with terminal cancer from doing the job he took pride in completing every year. 'Why do you think he did it?' I asked John. 'Because he hates me, and he's an asshole,' he replied."

Read/watch Mark Salter's interview with Judy Woodruff on "PBS NewsHour."

  • Woodruff: "I dare anybody to read it without tearing up."
  • Salter, who says McCain felt "called by history": "I titled the book 'The Luckiest Man' because that's how he viewed himself."
  • Salter said McCain believed "you redeem yourself from your flaws and failings ... through courage and self-sacrifice and service to others. And he did that at great cost, over and over again."
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Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Oct 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Operation Warp Speed leader hasn't spoken with Biden team

Moncef Slaoui speaking at the White House. Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Moncef Slaoui knows his job helping lead Operation Warp Speed may not be over by inauguration day, but tells the Axios Re:Cap podcast that hasn't yet spoken with anyone on Team Biden about vaccine development or deployment.

Why it matters: It could behoove the country for an incoming Biden administration to hit the ground running on the inherited pandemic crisis, much like both Barrack Obama and John McCain were invited into financial crisis talks by George W. Bush in the closing months of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Go deeper: Moncef Slaoui on the new vaccine timeline.

29 mins ago - World

WHO revises air quality guidelines to reduce deaths from pollution

Smoke from California wildfires over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in August 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday updated air quality guidelines it set roughly 15 years ago, saying that negative health effects from air pollutants can begin at lower levels than it previously thought.

Why it matters: The changes are meant to reduce deaths from pollutants that cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and prematurely kill an estimated 7 million people around the world annually, according to the WHO.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

The road to COP26 gets slightly easier

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly.

Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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