Phoenix: John McCain declared Monday he has been cancer-free since a bout with skin cancer seven and a half years ago, although the pending Republican presidential nominee underwent a full medical examination including a cancer screening earlier in the day.
The Arizona senator pledged to release the test results before the end of April, the same timeframe for releasing his income tax returns. McCain cast the doctor’s visit as a routine part of his medical regimen, but the 71-year-old senator has faced questions about whether he is beyond the risk of a recurrence of cancer.
The medical exam was the first order of business in McCain’s first full week as the presumed Republican nominee. It also kicked off a multifaceted effort aimed at reintroducing the senator to voters while Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton continue battle for their party’s nomination.
One component was a fundraising tour that will take McCain to Missouri, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois this week.
Next week, he heads overseas for a visit to Europe and the Middle East that will also include a stop in Iraq. McCain divulged the trip despite security concerns from the Pentagon, telling reporters, “I don’t mind telling you, the Pentagon goes ballistic. They go ballistic.”
Upon his return, he plans a major foreign policy address, followed by a tour taking him to important sites in his personal biography.
Among the expected stops: McCain Field in Mississippi, a Navy facility named for his grandfather, a former admiral; Jacksonville, Florida, where McCain returned from his time as a Vietnam prisoner of war and commanded the largest flight squadron in the Navy; and Alexandria, Virginia, and Annapolis, Maryland, where he went to high school and then the Naval Academy.
That tour is expected to be followed by a trip aimed at outlining McCain’s positions on issues such as the economy and the environment, as well as his concern for less-affluent areas of the country, such as Appalachia.
Fundraising is fundamental to that effort, since McCain has far less money than both of his potential Democratic opponents. Clinton has more than double McCain’s donations; Obama has nearly triple the Arizona senator’s total.
Obama raised $55 million in February alone, while Clinton collected $35 million. McCain has not yet released his February totals. Obama and Clinton also far exceed him in cash on hand.
As of Jan. 31, Obama, a senator from Illinois, had raised $141 million, with $25 million cash on hand; Clinton, a senator from New York and former first lady, had raised $138 million and had $29 million cash on hand.
By contrast, McCain has raised $55 million and had $5.2 million cash on hand at the end of January. An invitation to his event Wednesday night at the Taj Boston hotel is fairly typical of those this week: $2,300 donations, the maximum allowable for each primary and general election campaign are required for a private reception with McCain. A half-hour later, the tab drops to $1,000 per person for a more widely accessible general reception.
It was uncertain whether former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had challenged McCain for the Republican nomination, would attend the event.