Former smoker McCain talks cigarettes, cancer with Lance Armstrong
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican John McCain added a pledge on Thursday to his list of goals if he wins the White House: help people quit smoking.
McCain, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day before ceasing 29 years ago, told a summit organized by cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong that preventive measures were key to keeping people healthy.
“So as president, I will work with business and insurance companies in support of programs to help people quit smoking,” he said.
Armstrong pressed McCain on whether he would stop a trend seen during the Bush administration in which funding for the National Cancer Institute had decreased.
“We will reverse that trend,” McCain said, though he declined to be specific about how much he would increase funding.
McCain veered off of his prepared remarks to speak briefly about his own battle with melanoma. He joked later with Armstrong about whom the champion cyclist would prefer to exercise with: McCain or his Democratic rival Barack Obama.
“I don’t have an answer for you on who I would work out with,” Armstrong told reporters. “Probably best just to do a little triathlon. You know, we could hike one day with Senator McCain and play basketball one day with Senator Obama and then the other day they have to go ride with me, and then we’ll figure it out.”
Armstrong also hinted that he might be interested in running for office someday.
“There might come a time when you feel like you’ve reached a wall and you need to step into public office and try to make change through that channel or those ends,” he said. “But not right now.”
Armstrong’s foundation did not endorse McCain. The cyclist said he would also press Obama to talk about his plans and experience related to cancer issues.
Photo credits: (top) Reuters/Mike Blake (Comic book biographies of the candidates displayed at Comic-Con in San Diego, July 23, 2008) and (bottom) Reuters/Jim Young (Armstrong testifies on Capitol Hill in May)