She has a fearlessness befitting her war-hero husband, Arizona Sen. John McCain, The Arizona Republic reported Sunday.
The newspaper said the wealthy beer distributorship heiress has waded through minefields in Cambodia and slept in tents in Angola, among other things.
"The thing that differentiates Cindy, and why I think she will make an excellent first lady, is that she has this true connection with the under-served," said Vonnie Wray, development director at Operation Smile.
Wray has accompanied Cindy McCain on missions to Morocco, India and Vietnam, the newspaper said.
Friends of the 53-year-old candidate's wife said she has eschewed the public spotlight after her three-year addiction to Percocet and Vicodin became public in 1994.
"She was very unhappy that people were talking about her. She was probably more guarded after that," said longtime friend Betsey Bayless, a former Arizona secretary of state and current chief executive of Maricopa Integrated Health System.