Whatever happened to the first Mrs. McCain?


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:


Several readers have sent me a copy of an article which appeared in the British newspaper The Daily Mail this past Sunday.  It answers the question, "whatever happened to the first Mrs. McCain?"  It is the first interview given by Carol McCain in almost 30 years.

To read the full story: The wife John McCain callously left behind | Mail Online

John McCain by his own admission was a playboy womanizer in his youth.  He decided that it was time to settle down at the age of 28 when he met Carol.  They married in 1965, and had a son together (McCain adopted Carol’s two older children).  McCain later requested combat duty, and was subsequently shot down over Hanoi in October 1967, where he remained a POW until 1973.

Carol McCain became something of a spokesperson for the wives of POW/MIA servicemen during the Vietnam war.  A near fatal car crash on Christmas eve in 1969 left her severely maimed requiring six months in the hospital and 23 operations.  McCain’s mother called H. Ross Perot for help.  Perot was an advocate for POW/MIA’s at that time. "She asked me to send my people to Philadelphia to take care of the family," Perot says. Perot paid for Carol’s extensive medical care.  Ross Perot Slams McCain | Newsweek Voices – Jonathan Alter | Newsweek.com

When U.S. POWs returned home from Vietnam in 1973, the nation celebrated the televised reunion of Carol and John McCain.  H. Ross Perot introduced the couple to Governor Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, who took Carol under her wing.

But the couple’s marriage quickly dissolve when John McCain suffered a ‘mid-life crisis’ according to Carol and he returned to the playboy womanizing of his youth, engaging in a series of affairs.  In 1979 – while still married to Carol – he met his present wife Cindy at a cocktail party in Hawaii. Over the next six months he pursued her, flying around the country to see her. Then he began to push to end his marriage.

Carol and her children were devastated. ‘It was a complete surprise.’  Carol is quoted saying ‘My marriage ended because John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25. You know that happens…it just does.’ 

A friend added: ‘Carol didn’t fight him. She felt her infirmity made her an impediment to him. She justified his actions because of all he had gone through. She used to say, “He just wants to make up for lost time.”’

Indeed, to many in their circle the saddest part of the break-up was Carol’s decision to resign herself to losing a man she says she still adores.

One old friend of the McCains said: ‘Carol always insists she is not bitter, but I think that’s a defense mechanism. She also feels deeply in his debt because in return for her agreement to a divorce, he promised to pay for her medical care for the rest of her life.’

After their divorce, McCain moved to Arizona with his new bride immediately after their 1980 marriage. There, his new father-in-law gave him a job and introduced him to local businessmen and political powerbrokers who would smooth his passage to Washington via the House of Representatives and Senate.

Carol remained resolutely loyal as McCain’s political star rose. She says she agreed to talk to The Mail on Sunday only because she wanted to publicize her support for the man who abandoned her.

And yet despite McCain’s popularity as a politician, there are those who won’t forget his treatment of his first wife.

H. Ross Perot, who paid for Carol’s medical bills all those years ago, now believes that both Carol McCain and the American people have been taken in by a man who is unusually slick and cruel – even by the standards of modern politics.

‘McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory,’ he said.

‘After he came home, Carol walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.’

At a time when John McCain is seeking to attract women voters who supported Hillary Clinton, the story of Carol McCain should serve as a stark reminder to many of them who are members of the "First Wives Club" and who were abandoned for a younger "trophy wife" after years of faithful marriage and child rearing to the man they loved.  Old resentments should give them pause.

And for the news media which considers it a popular sport to cast Bill Clinton as a playboy womanizer, why is that John McCain gets a pass for his own self-confessed womanizing?  How does his history comport with the "family values" of conservative voters who believe in faithful marriage?  And why has Carol McCain, who was popular with the news media for many years until her divorce from John McCain, been forgotten by the news media as if she never even existed?

Carol McCain may have disappeared down the news media’s memory hole, but those of us old enough to remember her faithful sacrifice and advocacy on behalf of her POW husband have not forgotten her.  Carol was the better half of the McCains.


  1. Family values? Terrible story about a womanizing playboy. this story has secured my vote for Obama a man with class who cares for his wife and family

  2. how can we publiicize his terrible behavior and preach to us. last night i watched Nancy and Cindy two adulteress sitting side by side SHAME ON THEM do whatever you want just don’t claim to be principled.also if Bridget is his daughter why is she not in the will at the same level the other 6 kids are

  3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/13/AR2008061302635.html
    By David S. Broder
    Sunday, June 15, 2008; Page B07

    Sixteen years after he shook up American politics by launching an impromptu campaign for president, Ross Perot is about to dip a toe back into the public debates. And, yes, he’s bringing his charts with him to make his point.

    Beginning today, people who go to http://www.perotcharts.com will find the Dallas billionaire waiting to challenge them on one of his favorite subjects — the “ruin” he says America is courting with its spendthrift ways.

    Current polls show that fewer than 1 percent of the voters call the budget deficit one of the country’s major problems.

    Part of the reason is that politicians of both parties are laboring to disguise the reality from public view. Both President Bush and the Democratic Congress have issued budgets this year that claim to achieve balance in 2012 — just four years from now.

    But those budgets are based on blue-sky assumptions that have no grounding in the real world. When I asked Perot what he made of them, he replied, “It’s an election year. What would you expect them to say?”

  4. Thanks for bringing this story of the “abandoned” first wife, Carol McCain to us. I often wondered what happened to her, being that 2nd wife Cindy McCain is 17 years younger than the Senator. Just another reason to vote for Barack Obama.

  5. A friend who has lived in Arizona for years tells me Carol was given a job in the Reagan White House. She sat in the visitor’s area in her wheelchair welcoming and directing guests.

    This as a tidbit of information I’m adding to the conversation. Was this job part of keeping Carol happy and buying her silence? Was this just an instance of Reagan taking Carol under his wing, as the post mentions? Or was she hired as the best qualified from a pool of applicants? I have no idea.

  6. Sheesh!!!

    And this man wants women to vote for him???? I dunno – really, I don’t!

  7. What a great post, Meanie. I read about Carol McCain for the first time just a few days ago.

    If I were Carol’s position, I do not believe I could be so understanding and generous, but I’m sure that she badly needed the lifetime medical care that she got in exchange for letting him go quietly. Perhaps she does still adore him, although it’s hard to understand why.

    When it comes to relationships with men, I’ve never believed that there is anything to be gained from trying to hold on to someone who wants to be with someone else. So that part I understand. However, this woman stood by McCain for many years when he needed an advocate, and somehow it seems that she deserves better than what she got.

    I’m sure it is better for her from a health perspective to not be bitter, if that is in fact the case. But there is just something about a man who dumps a faithful, crippled wife for an obscenely wealthy trophy wife that I find very unsettling. It is as though he left her behind so he could fast track his career and make up for his lost time. And all of this without a backward glance, just “lifetime medical care.”

    A sad story, indeed.