BOSTON (CBS) - The news of Sen. John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis hits hard here in Massachusetts, where Republican and independent voters gave him a landslide win in the 2000 Republican Presidential primary and a strong second-place finish to former Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2008 GOP primary.
His straight-talking style has always been popular here, and he's been a frequent visitor campaigning on behalf of candidates like Romney and former Sen. Scott Brown.
But McCain's ties to our state cross party lines.
He was a frequent sparring partner and close friend of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, and gave a warm eulogy for his colleague in August 2009 after Ted's death from the same cancer now afflicting McCain.
"We disagreed on most issues," McCain said that day. "But I admired his passion for his convictions, his patience with the hard and sometimes dull work of legislating, and his uncanny sense for when differences could be bridged and his cause advanced by degrees."
Now the same is being said of McCain by one of Kennedy's successors, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who told WBZ-TV in an exclusive interview Thursday that McCain has been an ally since she joined the Armed Services Committee he chairs earlier this year.
"In this latest round where we had to put together the defense budget, he and his staff were very amenable to including a lot of the amendments that I wanted without even forcing a vote on them," says Warren, who also observed McCain in action during a recent trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.
"He remembers what the officials told him last time. He remembers the commitments the leaders made and didn't follow through on. And boy, when he shows up, he starts out with a polite statement, but he wants to know why past promises weren't followed through on. He showed me what oversight is really like in the field when it comes to our national defense."
And Warren notes that McCain has been a champion of the high-tech military research and development that is a key sector of the Massachusetts economy through venues like Natick Labs and Lincoln Labs and the web of local private companies that feed off defense spending.
"We need John McCain to win this fight and come back," said Warren in our interview, her voice catching for a moment. "We need him."
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