PHOENIX — 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.
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. I wouldn't be here tonight but for the strength of her character."
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 her native Oklahoma in 2008. "I was 20 years old, and it was the best decision I ever made."
She married into a storied military family — her husband retired in 1972 with the rank of four-star admiral, the same rank held by his father, John S. "Slew" McCain Sr. Her son was later held as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam even as his father was commander in chief of Pacific forces by the late 1960s.
Roberta McCain also was a young mother when her three children were born, later telling the Oklahoma paper that she was "too young and irresponsible to know you were supposed to worry about them. I just let them go. I got a kick out of watching them."
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."
Photos: Remembering Roberta McCain
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Roberta McCain, Cindy McCain
Roberta McCain 1971
John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Cindy McCain, Roberta McCain
John McCain, Cindy McCain, Lindsey Graham, Roberta McCain
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