Journalist remembers time spent with Sen. McCain during his presidential campaign

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the next few days, the country will take time to mourn, honor and remember Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday after losing his battle with brain cancer.

While the country takes time to remember “The Maverick,” a Houston woman is reflecting on the time she spent covering McCain during his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000.

Crime novelist Kathryn Casey worked as a magazine journalist at the time. She was contributing to “Ladies Home Journal” magazine which assigned her to cover the presidential campaign.

“I think they were the kind of couple who depended on each other,” Casey said of McCain and his wife, Cindy. “Sometimes people complete one another and I think Cindy and John did that for each other.”

Kathryn’s assignment 18 years ago took her to the McCain home in the Phoenix area for two days where she had the chance to observe the couple in private moments.

“They were really a loving, devoted couple. They kind of laughed together off by themselves,” Casey said.

Casey also traveled with the McCains as they campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination. It was a grueling campaign McCain would lose to George W. Bush who won the nomination and eventually the White House. The rigors of campaigning were especially hard on McCain, who suffered lifelong disabilities received at the hands of his captors in Hanoi.

“He couldn’t lift his arms above the shoulders, so when we were on the airplane and we were going to a campaign stop, someone had to help him put his suit jacket on, and she (Cindy) combed his hair. It was a kind of tender, personal moment,”  said.

Casey’s time with the McCains was brief but it left her with lasting impressions of a man who had been tested as a warrior and emerged to help bring the country back together after a divisive war.

“There were a lot of things that came out of Vietnam. It was really a painful time for the country. And he was something we were proud of at the time,” she said.

Thousands are expected to come to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, where the senator’s body will lie in state Friday, proving they are still proud of the warrior turned statesman.

The Capitol Rotunda will be open to the public beginning at 2 p.m. EST Friday.

A funeral service will be held at the National Cathedral Saturday morning. Former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will deliver eulogies.

McCain will be laid to rest at a private ceremony on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday.