McCain 'cracking jokes' and working at 'getting strong,' says his co-author

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Mark Salter (let) is the co-author of Arizona Sen. John McCain's new book. (Source: 'CBS This Morning' and 3TV/CBS file photo) Mark Salter (let) is the co-author of Arizona Sen. John McCain's new book. (Source: 'CBS This Morning' and 3TV/CBS file photo)
(Source: Amazon.com) (Source: Amazon.com)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

John McCain is in "good spirits" and "cracking jokes" with his nurses as he battles a life-threatening form of brain cancer, said Mark Salter, the co-author of the Arizona senator's newest book.

"He's doing well he got out of the hospital a couple of weeks ago after an operation and he's working really hard at getting strong," Salter said Monday in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

Salter, who visited McCain at his house near Sedona a week ago, is a longtime aide who has written several books with the 2008 Republican nominee for president, including his latest, "The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations."

[WATCH: Mark Salter on "CBS Thi Morning"]

[SPECIAL SECTION: John McCain Stories]

During the CBS interview, Salter revealed the forthcoming book started with a different title but McCain changed his mind because he thought it was "too flip."

"It actually had a different title; those of you who covered him will be familiar with it," Salter said. "It was 'It's Always Darkest Before It's Totally Black.'"

[READ MORE: McCain penning 'no-holds-barred' memoir]

The expression is one of many used throughout the years by McCain, who is known for his self-deprecating humor and sarcasm.

Regarding that sense of humor, Salter said McCain's nurses are still adjusting to his personality.

"Some of them are really new. They don't really know him so they don't understand that sarcasm is his form of affection," Salter said.

The book goes on sale Tuesday and was already in the works when doctors diagnosed McCain with brain cancer nearly a year ago. Salter said the diagnoses changed the focus.

[READ MORE: Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer]

"It became a different book," he said. "Obviously, he wanted it to be very personal at that point and write about what America means to him after 60 years of serving the country."


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Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

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