McCain's goal is the chairmanship of the Armed Services Committee, where he is the ranking Republican member, Politico reported. In a phone interview Thursday with Politico, McCain said his family's military tradition goes back to the American Revolution and includes his son's current service as a Navy pilot.
McCain was a Navy pilot in Vietnam and spent years as a prisoner of war.
"I think it would be a fulfillment of a lifelong dream that I've had. Barry Goldwater was also chairman -- he also lost a presidential election," McCain told Politico as he prepared to campaign Thursday with Rick Berg, a senatorial candidate in North Dakota.
McCain, 76, has been flying around the country, trying to shore up vulnerable Republican incumbents like Scott Brown in Massachusetts and to give added support to candidates for open seats or trying to topple Democrats.
"Frankly, there has never been a more dedicated campaigner on behalf of Republicans than John McCain, and the schedule he maintains would kill men half his age," said Kurt Davis, a Republican strategist in Phoenix and co-chair of McCain's Arizona campaign in 2008.
Democrats have of a 51-47 edge in the Senate, not counting two independents who caucus with the Democrats.