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John McCain's Big Tease

John McCain, Dec. 6, 2007. (Melina Mara/TWP).

In his profile of John McCain in today's paper, Michael Ruane explores the Arizona senator's long-standing friendships. Here's more:

John McCain was introducing one of his old comrades, Orson Swindle, to country music star Lee Greenwood during the festivities that preceded the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore this month.

"Orson is a colonel in the Marine Corps, retired," McCain told the singer. "He was in prison with me. We're old buddies, in Hanoi together."

"God bless you," Greenwood said. "Thank you, sir."

But McCain, master of the one liner, couldn't resist the opportunity to tease Swindle. "He was the ugliest prisoner," he confided to Greenwood.

"Oh, really?" Greenwood said.

Swindle, who's 70 and lives in Alexandria, laughed. "I was also invincible," he added.

McCain has been launching verbal grenades at Swindle ever since they introduced themselves through the wall of their Hanoi prison cells. Swindle recounted their first conversation more than once during McCain's first presidential bid. When McCain learned Swindle was a Marine, he announced: "I wanted to be a Marine like you but I couldn't handle the qualifications.' "

"I said, 'What qualifications?' And he said, 'Well, my parents were married, to begin with.' "

Almost 35 years after his imprisonment, McCain remains close to several of his former POW inmates. He brought Swindle, a tall, dapper former assistant secretary of commerce, to the game with him. "Our friendship is golden," Swindle said.

--Michael Ruane

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 13, 2007; 4:29 PM ET
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