Roberta McCain Dies at 108

Senator's feisty mother was his secret weapon on campaign trail
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2020 3:31 PM CDT
Roberta McCain Dies at 108
In this Sept. 1, 2018, photo, Roberta McCain, mother of Sen. John McCain watches as his casket is carried out of Washington National Cathedral in Washington following a memorial service.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Roberta Wright McCain, the mother of Sen. John McCain who used her feisty spirit to help convince voters during his 2008 presidential campaign, has died. She was 108. A spokesperson for daughter-in-law Cindy McCain says Roberta McCain died Monday. A cause of death was not immediately released. At 96, Roberta McCain became the Republican senator’s secret weapon at campaign stops as evidence that voters need not worry about her son’s age—past 70—as he sought the presidency, the AP reports. She remained energetic and active into her 90s, traveling often with her identical twin sister Rowena, who died at age 99. She attended the 2008 Republican National Convention, where her son credited “"her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country."

The senator, who died in 2018, said in 2008 that his “father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister, and me would fall to my mother alone." Roberta Wright was born Feb. 7, 1912, in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where her father was a businessman whose varied, colorful enterprises included bootlegging and oil wildcatting. The family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1920s. It was 1933 when a 20-year-old Roberta Wright defied her family and eloped with John McCain Jr. Documents released in 2008 showed that as a young ensign, John Jr. got into trouble when the couple decided to marry and he left his ship without permission. "I got married young,” she told the Muskogee Phoenix in 2008. "I was 20 years old, and it was the best decision I ever made." (After her son lost the election, she said the country should be united in tough times and promised not to say "one word of criticism" of Barack Obama.)

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