By Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 22, 2008
Indoor and outdoor swimming pools! Spas and state-of-the-art fitness centers! Views of the Arizona mountains, the Pacific Ocean and downtown Phoenix!
John McCain isn't just a presidential candidate. He's a veritable bling-master, worthy of an "MTV Cribs" episode, those televised tours of brazenly gilded homes led by celebrity owners like 50 Cent, Hulk Hogan and Bow Wow.
Except that the good senator may trump them all. His family's real estate holdings are so plentiful that not even McCain is sure of the number.
"I'll have my staff get back to you," he told a reporter from the Politico Web site when asked.
Whatever the count, we couldn't get McCain to lead us on a "Cribs"-style tour of his real estate, the senator being ever-busy trying to add another rather impressive property to his portfolio (1600 Pennsylvania Ave.).
So we'll take you on a McCain flyover ourselves, a coast-to-coast jaunt that covers at least five cities and three states.
First stop: Hidden Valley, Ariz., where the senator and his wife, Cindy, own a 15-acre ranch valued at more than $1 million.
Oh, but this property was a dud once upon a time! Nothing more than a house and a bunch of junked cars.
Then the McCains got their hands on it and voilà ! Step inside the main house, one of several buildings on the property, and check out the soaring ceilings, the floor made from Arizona flagstone, the chasm of a fireplace and the backyard grill where McCain likes to flip burgers and opine on the advantages of cooking with lemon juice.
But that's when the senator is relaxing.
When it comes to day-to-day living, his main address is downtown Phoenix, in a 12-story glass condo building that bills itself as "the Valley of the Sun's finest example of urban residential living."
The McCains dropped $4.6 million to turn two pads into what can be described only as a crib deluxe (7,000 square feet). Walk through the lobby and listen to the cascading waterfall. Or slip into the wet bar and stare at the 50-inch plasma TV in the communal party room.
Don't like to deal with the laundry? Pick up the phone and a staff drone will take care of it all, not to mention arrange to water the plants, walk the pooch and detail the car.
And don't fret over safety, not with what the building refers to on its Web site as "bio-metric fingerprint readers," nifty little gadgets that control entry to the residents' floors.
When the grit of city living becomes too much, the McCains can choose among -- count 'em -- three beachfront pads in California.
There's the condo in La Jolla and two more in, yes, the same building in Coronado.
The McCains had survived with just one apartment in Coronado, but Cindy felt compelled to add another this year, apparently after tiring of sharing the digs with their four kids.
"When I bought the first one, my husband, who is not a beach person, said, 'Oh, this is such a waste of money; the kids will never go,' " Cindy McCain told Vogue. "Then it got to the point where they used it so much I couldn't get in the place. So I bought another one."
Cindy McCain, a beer distributorship heiress, is the cash engine behind the couple's real estate moves. It was she who sold their nine-bedroom Phoenix mansion -- the house where she grew up -- in 2006.
She also bought them a place in Arlington, where he spends much of the year.
What's a senator to do when he's away from home?
For $847,000, the McCains got themselves a three-bedroom apartment in a building that features balconies, patios and "climate controlled access to Metro," according to one real estate agent's description.
And when they tire of the building's indoor pool, the McCains can always dive into the one outdoors.