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Monday, August 30, 2004
Senator McCain: "We're Americans, and We'll Never Surrender"
Republican National Convention
New York, New York
(Remarks as prepared for delivery.)
Thank you, Lindsey, and, thank you, my fellow Republicans.
I'm truly grateful for the privilege of addressing you.
This week, millions of Americans, not all Republicans, weigh our claim on their support for the two men who have led our country in these challenging times with moral courage and firm resolve.
So I begin with the words of a great American from the other party, given at his party's convention in the year I was born.
My purpose is not imitation, for I can't match his eloquence, but respect for the relevance in our time of his rousing summons to greatness of an earlier generation of Americans.
In a time of deep distress at home, as tyranny strangled the aspirations to liberty of millions, and as war clouds gathered in the West and East, Franklin Delano Roosevelt accepted his party's nomination by observing:
"There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."
The awful events of September 11, 2001 declared a war we were vaguely aware of, but hadn't really comprehended how near the threat was, and how terrible were the plans of our enemies.
It's a big thing, this war.
It's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for every soul on earth. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil.
And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become a much bigger thing.
So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny.
And much is expected of us.
We are engaged in a hard struggle against a cruel and determined adversary.
Our enemies have made clear the danger they pose to our security and to the very essence of our culture ...liberty.
Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war.
Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs.
But we must fight. We must.
The sacrifices borne in our defense are not shared equally by all Americans.
But all Americans must share a resolve to see this war through to a just end.
We must not be complacent at moments of success, and we must not despair over setbacks.
We must learn from our mistakes, improve on our successes, and vanquish this unpardonable enemy.
If we do less, we will fail the one mission no American generation has ever failed
to provide to our children a stronger, better country than the one we were blessed to inherit.
Remember how we felt when the serenity of a bright September morning was destroyed by a savage atrocity so hostile to all human virtue we could scarcely imagine any human being capable of it.
We were united. First, in sorrow and anger. Then in recognition we were attacked not for a wrong we had done, but for who we are a people united in a kinship of ideals, committed to the notion that the people are sovereign, not governments, not armies, not a pitiless, inhumane theocracy, not kings, mullahs or tyrants, but the people.
In that moment, we were not different races.
We were not poor or rich. We were not Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. We were not two countries.
We were Americans.
All of us, despite the differences that enliven our politics, are united in the one big idea that freedom is our birthright and its defense is always our first responsibility. All other responsibilities come second.
We must not lose sight of that as we debate who among us should bear the greatest responsibility
for keeping us safe and free.
We must, whatever our disagreements, stick together in this great challenge of our time.
My friends in the Democratic Party and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends
assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's
most important obligation.
I don't doubt their sincerity. They emphasize that military action alone won't protect us, that this war has many fronts: in courts, financial institutions, in the shadowy world of intelligence, and in diplomacy.
They stress that America needs the help of her friends to combat an evil that threatens us all,
that our alliances are as important to victory as are our armies. We agree.
And, as we've been a good friend to other countries in moments of shared perils, so we have good reason to expect their solidarity with us in this struggle. That is what the President believes.
And, thanks to his efforts we have received valuable assistance from many good friends around the globe, even if we have, at times, been disappointed with the reactions of some. I don't doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.
Our President will work with all nations willing to help us defeat this scourge that afflicts us all.
War is an awful business. The lives of a nation's finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer. Commerce is disrupted, economies are damaged.
Strategic interests shielded by years of statecraft are endangered as the demands of war and
However just the cause, we should shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us. But there is no avoiding this war. We tried that, and our reluctance cost us dearly. And while this war has many components, we can't make victory on the battlefield harder to achieve so that our diplomacy is easier to conduct.
That is not just an expression of our strength. It's a measure of our wisdom.
That's why I commend to my country the re-election of President Bush, and the steady, experienced, public-spirited man who serves as our Vice-President, Dick Cheney.
Four years ago, in Philadelphia, I spoke of my confidence that President Bush would accept the responsibilities that come with America's distinction as the world's only superpower.
I promised he would not let America "retreat behind empty threats, false promises and uncertain diplomacy;" that he would "confidently defend our interests and values wherever they are threatened."
I knew my confidence was well placed when I watched him stand on the rubble of the World Trade Center, with his arm around a hero of September 11th, and in our moment of mourning and anger, strengthen our unity and summon our resolve by promising to right this terrible wrong, and to stand up and fight for the values we hold dear.
He promised our enemies would soon hear from us. And so they did. So they did.
He ordered American forces to Afghanistan and took the fight to our enemies, and away from our shores, seriously injuring al Qaeda and destroying the regime that gave them safe haven. He worked effectively to secure the cooperation of Pakistan, a relationship that's critical to our success against al Qaeda.
He encouraged other friends to recognize the peril that terrorism posed for them, and won their help in apprehending many of those who would attack us again, and in helping to freeze the assets they used to fund their bloody work.
After years of failed diplomacy and limited military pressure to restrain Saddam Hussein,
President Bush made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq. Those who criticize that decision would have us believe that the choice was between a status quo that was well enough left alone and war. But there was no status quo to be left alone.
The years of keeping Saddam in a box were coming to a close. The international consensus that he be kept isolated and unarmed had eroded to the point that many critics of military action had decided the time had come again to do business with Saddam, despite his near daily attacks on our pilots, and his refusal, until his last day in power, to allow the unrestricted inspection of his arsenal.
Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war. It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.
And certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves
and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls.
Whether or not Saddam possessed the terrible weapons he once had and used, freed from international pressure and the threat of military action, he would have acquired them again.
The central security concern of our time is to keep such devastating weapons beyond the reach of terrorists who can't be dissuaded from using them by the threat of mutual destruction.
We couldn't afford the risk posed by an unconstrained Saddam in these dangerous times.
By destroying his regime we gave hope to people long oppressed that if they have the courage to fight for it, they may live in peace and freedom.
Most importantly, our efforts may encourage the people of a region that has never known peace or freedom or lasting stability that they may someday possess these rights. I believe as strongly today as ever, the mission was necessary, achievable and noble. For his determination to undertake it, and for his unflagging resolve to see it through to a just end, President Bush deserves not only our support, but our admiration.
As the President rightly reminds us, we are safer than we were on September 11th, but we're not yet safe. We are still closer to the beginning than the end of this fight.
We need a leader with the experience to make the tough decisions and the resolve to stick with them; a leader who will keep us moving forward even if it is easier to rest.
And this President will not rest until America is stronger and safer still, and this hateful iniquity is vanquished. He has been tested and has risen to the most important challenge of our time, and I salute him.
I salute his determination to make this world a better, safer, freer place. He has not wavered. He has not flinched from the hard choices. He will not yield. And neither will we.
I said earlier that the sacrifices in this war will not be shared equally by all Americans. The President is the first to observe, most of the sacrifices fall, as they have before, to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces. We may be good citizens, but make no mistake, they are the very best of us.
It's an honor to live in a country that is so well and so bravely defended by such patriots.
May God bless them, the living and the fallen, as He has blessed us with their service.
For their families, for their friends, for America, for mankind they sacrifice to affirm that right makes might; that good triumphs over evil; that freedom is stronger than tyranny; that love is greater than hate.
It is left to us to keep their generous benefaction alive, and our blessed, beautiful country worthy of their courage. We should be thankful -- for the privilege.
Our country's security doesn't depend on the heroism of every citizen. But we have to be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf.
We have to love our freedom, not just for the material benefits it provides, not just for the autonomy it guarantees us, but for the goodness it makes possible.
We have to love it as much, if not as heroically, as the brave Americans who defend us at the risk, and often the cost of their lives.
No American alive today will ever forget what happened on the morning of September 11th. That day was the moment when the pendulum of history swung toward a new era. The opening chapter was tinged with great sadness and uncertainty. It shook us from our complacency in the belief that the Cold War's end had ushered in a time of global tranquility.
But an absence of complacency should not provoke an absence of confidence. What our enemies have sought to destroy is beyond their reach. It cannot be taken from us. It can only be surrendered.
My friends, we are again met on the field of political competition with our fellow countrymen. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis we have these contests,
and engage in spirited disagreement over the shape and course of our government.
We have nothing to fear from each other. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, and promote the general welfare. But it should remain an argument among friends who share an unshaken belief in our great cause, and in the goodness of each other.
We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always. Let us argue our differences.
But remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals, and our unconquerable love for them.
Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity.
We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong.
Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight.
We're Americans, and we'll never surrender.
They will.ribute to the Courage of the American People and the Strength of a President
Republican National Convention
New York, New York
(Remarks as prepared for delivery.)
Welcome to the capital of the World.
New York was the first capital of our great nation. It was here in 1789 in lower Manhattan that George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.
It was here in 2001 in lower Manhattan that President George W. Bush stood amid the fallen towers of the World Trade Center and said to the barbaric terrorists who attacked us, "They will hear from us."
They have heard from us!
They heard from us in Afghanistan and we removed the Taliban.
They heard from us in Iraq and we ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror.
They heard from us in Libya and without firing a shot Qadhafi abandoned weapons of mass destruction.
They are hearing from us in nations that are now more reluctant to sponsor terrorists.
So long as George Bush is President, is there any doubt they will continue to hear from us until we defeat global terrorism.
We owe that much and more to those loved ones and heroes we lost on September 11th.
The families of some of those we lost on September 11th are here with us. To them, and all those families affected by September 11th, we recognize the sacrifices your loved ones and you have made. You are in our prayers and we are in your debt.
This is the first Republican Convention ever held in New York City.
It makes a statement that New York City and America are open for business and stronger than ever.
We're not going to let the threat of terrorism stop us from leading our lives.
From the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to President George W. Bush our party's great contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world.
And our party is at its best when it makes certain that we have a powerful national defense in a still very dangerous world.
I don't believe we're right about everything and Democrats are wrong about everything.
Neither party has a monopoly on virtue.
But I do believe that there are times in our history when our ideas are more necessary and important for what we are facing.
There are times when leadership is the most important.
On September 11, this city and our nation faced the worst attack in our history.
On that day, we had to confront reality. For me, standing below the north tower and looking up and seeing the flames of hell and then realizing that I was actually seeing a man a human being jumping from the 101st or 102nd floor drove home to me that we were facing something beyond anything we had ever faced before.
We had to concentrate all of our energy, faith and hope to get through those first hours and days.
And I will always remember that moment as we escaped the building we were trapped in at 75 Barclay Street and realized that things outside might be even worse than they were inside the building.
We did the best we could to communicate a message of calm and hope, as we stood on the pavement seeing a massive cloud rushing through the cavernous streets of lower Manhattan.
Our people were so brave in their response.
At the time, we believed we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. Spontaneously, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said to Bernie, "Thank God George Bush is our President."
And I say it again tonight, "Thank God George Bush is our President."
On September 11, George W. Bush had been President less than eight months. This new President, Vice President, and new administration were faced with the worst crisis in our history.
President Bush's response in keeping us unified and in turning the ship of state around from being solely on defense against terrorism to being on offense as well and for his holding us together.
For that and then his determined effort to defeat global terrorism, no matter what happens in this election, President George W. Bush already has earned a place in our history as a great American President.
But let's not wait for history to present the correct view of our President. Let us write our own history.
We need George Bush now more than ever.
The horror, the shock and the devastation of those attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and over the skies of Pennsylvania lifted a cloud from our eyes.
We stood face to face with those people and forces who hijacked not just airplanes but a religion and turned it into a creed of terrorism dedicated to eradicating us and our way of life.
Terrorism did not start on September 11, 2001. It had been festering for many years.
And the world had created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was in 1972. And the pattern had already begun.
The three surviving terrorists were arrested and within two months released by the German government.
Action like this became the rule, not the exception.
Terrorists came to learn they could attack and often not face consequences.
In 1985, terrorists attacked the Achille Lauro and murdered an American citizen who was in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer.
They marked him for murder solely because he was Jewish.
Some of those terrorist were released and some of the remaining terrorists allowed to escape by the Italian government because of fear of reprisals.
So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was "accommodation, appeasement and compromise."
And worse the terrorists also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the barbarity of the attack.
Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table.
How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize when he was supporting a terrorist plague in the Middle East that undermined any chance of peace?
Before September 11, we were living with an unrealistic view of the world much like our observing
Europe appease Hitler or trying to accommodate ourselves to peaceful co-existence with the Soviet Union through mutually assured destruction.
President Bush decided that we could no longer be just on defense against global terrorism but we must also be on offense.
On September 20, 2001, President Bush stood before a joint session of Congress, a still grieving and shocked nation and a confused world and he did change the direction of our ship of state.
He dedicated America under his leadership to destroying global terrorism.
The President announced the Bush Doctrine when he said: "Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there.
It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
"Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."
And since September 11th President Bush has remained rock solid.
It doesn't matter how he is demonized.
It doesn't matter what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeat him.
They ridiculed Winston Churchill. They belittled Ronald Reagan.
But like President Bush, they were optimists; leaders must be optimists. Their vision was beyond the present and set on a future of real peace and true freedom.
Some call it stubbornness. I call it principled leadership.
President Bush has the courage of his convictions.
In choosing a President, we really don't choose a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or liberal.
We choose a leader.
And in times of danger, as we are now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision.
There are many qualities that make a great leader but having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.
Winston Churchill saw the dangers of Hitler while his opponents characterized him as a war-mongering gadfly.
Ronald Reagan saw and described the Soviet Union as "the evil empire" while world opinion accepted it as inevitable and belittled Ronald Reagan's intelligence.
President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is.
John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision.
This is not a personal criticism of John Kerry.
I respect him for his service to our nation.
But it is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men;
President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often even on important issues.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War. Later he said he actually supported the war.
Then in 2002, as he was calculating his run for President, he voted for the war in Iraq.
And then just 9 months later, he voted against an $87 billion supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops.
He even, at one point, declared himself an anti-war candidate. Now, he says he's pro-war. At this rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his position at least three or four more times.
My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
Maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas - - one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing.
Yes, people in public office at times do change their minds, I've done that, or they realize they are wrong or circumstances change.
But John Kerry has made it the rule to change his position, rather than the exception. In October, 2003, he told an Arab-American Institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Territories was a "barrier to peace."
A few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense."
The contrasts are dramatic. They involve very different views of how to deal with terrorism.
President Bush will make certain that we are combatting terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York.
John Kerry's record of inconsistent positions on combatting terrorism gives us no confidence he'll pursue such a determined course.
President Bush will not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over thirty years to stand up to terrorists, to dissuade us from what is necessary for our defense.
He will not let them set our agenda. Under President Bush, America will lead rather than follow.
John Kerry's claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him, raises the risk that he would accommodate his position to their viewpoint.
It would hardly be the first time he changed his position on matters of war and peace.
I remember the days following September 11th when we were no longer Democrats or Republicans, but Americans determined to do all we could to help the victims, to rebuild our city and nation and to disable our enemies.
I remember President Bush coming here on September 14, 2001 and lifting the morale of our rescue workers by talking with them and embracing them and staying with them much longer than originally planned.
In fact, if you promise to keep it just between us so I don't get in trouble it was my opinion that the Secret Service was concerned about the President remaining so long in that area.
With buildings still unstable, with fires raging below ground of 2000 degrees or more, there was good reason for concern.
Well the President remained there and talked to everyone, the firefighters, the police officers, the healthcare workers, the clergy, but the people who spent the most time with him were our construction workers.
Now New York construction workers are very special people. I'm sure this is true all over but I know the ones here the best. They were real heroes along with many others that day, volunteering immediately. And they're big, real big. Their arms are bigger than my legs and their opinions are even bigger than their arms.
Now each one of them would engage the President and I imagine like his cabinet give him advice.
They were advising him in their own words on exactly what he should do with the terrorists. Of course I can't repeat their exact language.
But one of them really went into great detail and upon conclusion of his remarks President Bush said in a rather loud voice, "I agree."
At this point the guy just beamed and all his buddies turned toward him in amazement.
The guy just lost it.
So he reached over, embraced the President and began hugging him enthusiastically.
A Secret Service agent standing next to me looked at the President and the guy and instead of extracting the President from this bear hug, he turned toward me and put his finger in my face and said, "If this guy hurts the President, Giuliani you're finished."
Meekly, and this is the moral of the story, I responded, "but it would be out of love."
I also remember the heart wrenching visit President Bush made to the families of our firefighters and police officers at the Javits Center.
I remember receiving all the help, assistance and support from the President and even more than we asked.
For that I will be eternally grateful to President Bush.
And I remember the support being bi-partisan and actually standing hand in hand Republicans and Democrats, here in New York and all over the nation.
During a Boston Red Sox game there was a sign held up saying Boston loves New York.
I saw a Chicago police officer sent here by Mayor Daley directing traffic in Manhattan.
I'm not sure where he sent the cars, they are probably still riding around the Bronx, but it was very reassuring to know how much support we had.
And as we look beyond this election and elections do accentuate differences let's make sure we rekindle that spirit that we are one one America united to end the threat of global terrorism.
Certainly President Bush will keep us focused on that goal. When President Bush announced his commitment to ending global terrorism, he understood - - I understood, we all understood - - it was critical to remove the pillars of support for the global terrorist movement.
In any plan to destroy global terrorism, removing Saddam Hussein needed to be accomplished.
Frankly, I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people, permitted horrific atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction, was himself a weapon of mass destruction.
But the reasons for removing Saddam Hussein were based on issues even broader than just the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
To liberate people, give them a chance for accountable, decent government and rid the world of a pillar of support for global terrorism is something for which all those involved from President Bush to the brave men and women of our armed forces should be proud.
President Bush has also focused on the correct long-term answer for the violence and hatred emerging from the Middle East. The hatred and anger in the Middle East arises from the lack of accountable governments.
Rather than trying to grant more freedom, create more income, improve education and basic health care, these governments deflect their own failures by pointing to America and Israel and other external scapegoats.
But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of a single person in the Arab world. It does not relieve the plight of even one woman in Iran.
It does not give a decent living to a single soul in Syria. It certainly does not stop the slaughter of African Christians in the Sudan.
The changes necessary in the Middle East involve encouraging accountable, lawful governments that can be role models.
This has also been an important part of the Bush Doctrine and the President's vision for the future.
Have faith in the power of freedom.
People who live in freedom always prevail over people who live in oppression. That's the story of the Old Testament. That's the story of World War II and the Cold War.
That's the story of the firefighters and police officers and rescue workers who courageously saved thousands of lives on September 11, 2001.
President Bush is the leader we need for the next four years because he sees beyond today and tomorrow. He has a vision of a peaceful Middle East and, therefore, a safer world. We will see an end to global terrorism. I can see it. I believe it. I know it will happen.
It may seem a long way off. It may even seem idealistic.
But it may not be as far away and idealistic as it seems.
Look how quickly the Berlin Wall was torn down, the Iron Curtain ripped open and the Soviet Union disintegrated because of the power of the pent-up demand for freedom.
When it catches hold there is nothing more powerful than freedom. Give it some hope, and it will overwhelm dictators, and even defeat terrorists. That is what we have done and must continue to do in Iraq.
That is what the Republican Party does best when we are at our best, we extend freedom.
It's our mission. And it's the long-term answer to ending global terrorism. Governments that are free and accountable.
We have won many battles at home and abroad but as President Bush told us on September 20, 2001 it will take a long-term determined effort to prevail.
The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle. There will be no dramatic surrender. There will be no crumbling of a massive wall.
But we will know it. We'll know it as accountable governments continue to develop in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
We'll know it as terrorist attacks throughout the world decrease and then end.
And then, God willing, we'll all be able on a future anniversary of September 11th.
To say to our fallen brothers and sisters. To our heroes of the worst attack in our history and to our heroes who have sacrificed their lives in the war on terror.
We will say to them we have done all that we could with our lives that were spared to make your sacrifices build a world of real peace and true freedom.
We will make certain in the words of President Bush that they have heard from us.
That they have heard from us a message of peace through free, accountable, lawful and decent governments giving people hope for a future for themselves and their children.
God bless each one we have lost, here and abroad, and their families.
God bless all those defending our freedom.
God bless America.
The Torture Speech
On December 9 th 2014 the U.S. Senate released the Torture Report, which is a definitive examination of America’s use of torture during the Bush years. The CIA and almost all Republicans fought to prevent the release of this report and continue to advocate for the use of torture. On the same day the report was released John McCain gave one of the most powerful speeches on the Senate floor in the 21 st Century: condemning torture and the ideological underpinnings of justifying torture. His speech eloquently explained three main arguments: Americans must know if and how torture happened, torture does not work, and most importantly torture is un-American and does not fit with American values. I deeply disagree with much of McCain’s political decisions and warmongering but I think it is more important than even to highlight the moments when some politicians make powerful arguments against deeply misunderstood policies. Between McCain’s recent dramatic vote to keep Obamacare alive and his serious diagnosis, there is not a better time to remember one of best moments.
“The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless.”
For a democracy and an intelligence agency to function there must be a balance between secrecy and transparency. McCain has long supported the CIA in various political battles. However when the CIA illegally spied on the Senate Committee investigating it and continually lobbied to kill the report, McCain finally stood up to the CIA. In McCain’s speech he points out that this is a dangerous precedent to set and that the American people need to know the truth. He says, “I believe the American people have a right – indeed, a responsibility – to know what was done in their name how these practices did or did not serve our interests and how they comported with our most important values”
These words coming from a genuine war hero and a conservative carry a weight far greater than most in Washington. What makes this even more powerful is that McCain gives this speech while almost all the republicans are pushing to not release the torture report for fear of blowback. This shows that in the midst of political infighting McCain rises above to stay true to the idea of transparency that is so vital to American Democracy.
“I have long believed some of these practices amounted to torture, as a reasonable person would define it, especially, but not only the practice of waterboarding, which is a mock execution and an exquisite form of torture. Its use was shameful and unnecessary and, contrary to assertions made by some of its defenders and as the Committee’s report makes clear, it produced little useful intelligence to help us track down the perpetrators of 9/11 or prevent new attacks and atrocities.”
This passage is one of the most powerful of the whole speech because he categorically frames the “enhanced interrogation” as torture and an “exquisite form of torture.” Then it explains how that torture didn’t work. The supporters of torture focused their rhetoric for so long on arguing its not really torture and it was very effective. This makes it easier to justify and according to an ABC/Washington Post poll from 2014, 59 percent of Americans believe waterboarding after 9/11 was justified. This poll, while shocking, makes sense only when one has watched the TV series 24 and the movie Zero Dark Thirty where torture is rough but it helps us save the world and get Bin Laden (which the reports points out is a complete lie).
McCain is no doubt aware of the popular support for torture so he knows the importance of explaining what the report says that torture didn’t work. To build this argument he very effectively explains his experience with torture, “I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence.” McCain describes how victims say whatever their captures want to hear and that he knows this first hand. By carefully using his personnel experience McCain brings another added weight to this important rhetorical battle. He doesn’t exploit it but doesn’t ignore it. I believe that so many Americans support torture because they don’t understand it and they will never read the long torture report. So, McCain’s relatively short speech is an invaluable resource in the fight to help Americans understand torture. He not only uses clear logic but he humanizes it in a way that makes it hard for all the draft-dodging architects of torture and Fox News pundits to argue against.
“But in the end, torture’s failure to serve its intended purpose isn’t the main reason to oppose its use. I have often said, and will always maintain, that this question isn’t about our enemies it’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s about how we represent ourselves to the world.”
As he proceeds in the Speech McCain makes it clear that what is most troubling about the use of torture is that it is a clear example that we had lost our way. McCain is a strong believer in American Exceptionalism and he has often ignored American crimes and support of human rights violators. Despite this, he stood up against others that share those beliefs and made a case for the idea that all people have certain rights and being tortured violates those rights. McCains said,
“When we fight to defend our security we fight also for an idea, not for a tribe or a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion or for a king, but for an idea that all men are endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights. How much safer the world would be if all nations believed the same. How much more dangerous it can become when we forget it ourselves even momentarily.”
This idea that rights granted in a democracy differentiates the U.S. from terrorists or authoritarian governments is an important point. It frames the debate in a way in which those who support torture are Anti-American and pro-authoritarian. It is not just a matter of being soft on terror, but upholding American Values.
If you are an average republican senator looking at polls, you will make a determination that going against torture is not going to win you any new support but just make you look soft. So there is no incentive to go against torture. This speech gives a template and ideological support for politicians to ignore political expediency and see a value in standing up for what is right. I have no illusions that this is extremely rare but when we see it, we must take to time to elevate it despite many other disagreements.
All quotations come from The 2014 Speech which everyone should watch in its entirety.
Transcript of McCain speech
Good evening from the great city of New Orleans. Tonight, we can say with confidence the primary season is over, and the general election campaign has begun. I commend both Senators Obama and Clinton for the long, hard race they have run. Senator Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage. The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend. Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable o ne. But I'm ready for the challenge, and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people I ask to lead.
The decision facing Americans in this election couldn't be more important to the future security and prosperity of American families. This is, indeed, a change election. No matter who wins this election, the direction of this country is going to change dramatically. But, the choice is between the right change and the wrong change between going forward and going backward.
America has seen tough times before. We've always known how to get through them. And we've always believed our best days are ahead of us. I believe that still. But we must rise to the occasion, as we always have change what must be changed and make the future better than the past.
The right change recognizes that many of the policies and institutions of our government have failed. They have failed to keep up with the challenges of our time because many of these policies were designed for the problems and opportunities of the mid to late 20th Century, before the end of the Cold War before the revolution in information technology and rise of the global economy. The right kind of change will initiate widespread and innovative reforms in almost every area of government policy — health care, energy, the environment, the tax code, our public schools, our transportation system, disaster relief, government spending and regulation, diplomacy, the military and intelligence services. Serious and far-reaching reforms are needed in so many areas of government to meet our own challenges in our own time.
The irony is that Americans have been experiencing a lot of change in their lives attributable to these historic events, and some of those changes have distressed many American families — job loss, failing schools, prohibitively expensive health care, pensions at risk, entitlement programs approaching bankruptcy, rising gas and food prices, to name a few. But your government often acts as if it is completely unaware of the changes and hardships in your lives. And when government does take notice, often it only makes matters worse. For too long, we have let history outrun our government's ability to keep up with it. The right change will stop impeding Americans from doing what they have always done: overcome every obstacle to our progress, turn challenges into opportunities, and by our own industry, imagination and courage make a better country and a safer world th an we inherited.
To keep our nation prosperous, strong and growing we have to rethink, reform and reinvent: the way we educate our children train our workers deliver health care services support retirees fuel our transportation network stimulate research and development and harness new technologies.
To keep us safe we must rebuild the structure and mission of our military the capabilities of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the reach and scope of our diplomacy the capacity of all branches of government to defend us. We need to strengthen our alliances, and preserve our moral credibility.
We must also prepare, far better than we have, to respond quickly and effectively to a natural calamity. When Americans confront a catastrophe they have a right to expect basic competence from their government. Firemen and policemen should be able to communicate with each other in an emergency. We should be able to deliver bottled water to dehydrated babies and rescue the infirm from a hospital with no electricity. Our disgraceful failure to do so here in New Orleans exposed the incompetence of government at all levels to meet even its most basic responsibilities.
The wrong change looks not to the future but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas. Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us. That type of change doesn't trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests. It's the attitude of politicians who are sure of themselves but have little faith in the wisdom, decency and common sense of free people. That attitude created the unresponsive bureaucracies of big government in the first place. And that's not change we can believe in.
You will hear from my opponent's campaign in every speech, every interview, every press release that I'm running for President Bush's third term. You will hear every policy of the President described as the Bush-McCain policy. Why does Senator Obama believe it's so important to repeat that idea over and over again? Because he knows it's very difficult to get Americans to believe something they know is false. So he tries to drum it into your minds by constantly repeating it rather than debate honestly the very different directions he and I would take the country. But the American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama. They know I have a long record of bipartisan problem solving. They've seen me put our country before any President — before any party — before any special interest -- before my own interest. They might think me an imperfect servant of our country, which I surely am. But I am her servant first, last and always.
I have worked with the President to keep our nation safe. But he and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues. We've disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees over out of control government spending and budget gimmicks over energy policy and climate change over defense spending that favored defense contractors over the public good.
I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably. I was criticized for doing so by Republicans. I was criticized by Democrats. I was criticized by the press. But I don't answer to them. I answer to you. And I would be ashamed to admit I knew what had to be done in Iraq to spare us from a defeat that would endanger us for years, but I kept quiet because it was too politically hard for me to do. No ambition is more important to me than the security of the country I have defended all my adult life.
Senator Obama opposed the new strategy, and, after promising not to, voted to deny funds to the soldiers who have done a brilliant and brave job of carrying it out. Yet in the last year we have seen the success of that plan as violence has fallen to a four year low Sunni insurgents have joined us in the fight against al Qaeda the Iraqi Army has taken the lead in places once lost to Sunni and Shia extremists and the Iraqi Government has begun to make progress toward political reconciliation.
None of this progress would have happened had we not changed course over a year ago. And all of this progress would be lost if Senator Obama had his way and began to withdraw our forces from Iraq without concern for conditions on the ground and the advice of commanders in the field. Americans ought to be concerned about the judgment of a presidential candidate who says he's ready to talk, in person and without conditions, with tyrants from Havana to Pyongyang, but hasn't traveled to Iraq to meet with General Petraeus, and see for himself the progress he threatens to reverse.
I know Americans are tired of this war. I don't oppose a reckless withdrawal from Iraq because I'm indifferent to the suffering war inflicts on too many American families. I hate war. And I know very personally how terrible its costs are. But I know, too, that the course Senator Obama advocates could draw us into a wider war with even greater sacrifices put peace further out of reach, and Americans back in harm's way.
I take America's economic security as seriously as I do her physical security. For eight years the federal government has been on a spending spree that added trillions to the national debt. It spends more and more of your money on programs that have failed again and again to keep up with the changes confronting American families. Extravagant spending on things that are not the business of government indebts us to other nations fuels inflation raises interest rates and encourages irresponsibility. I have opposed wasteful spending by both parties and the Bush administration. Senator Obama has supported it and proposed more of his own. I want to freeze discretionary spending until we have completed top to bottom reviews of all federal programs to weed out failing ones. Senator Obama opposes that reform. I opposed subsidies that favor big business over small farmers and tariffs on imported products that have greatly increased the cost of food. Senator Obama supports these billions of dollars in corporate subsidies and the tariffs that have led to rising grocery bills for American families. That's not change we can believe in.
No problem is more urgent today than America's dependence on foreign oil. It threatens our security, our economy and our environment. The next President must be willing to break completely with the energy policies not just of the Bush Administration, but the administrations that preceded his, and lead a great national campaign to put us on a course to energy independence. We must unleash the creativity and genius of Americans, and encourage industries to pursue alternative, non-polluting and renewable energy sources, where demand will never exceed supply.
Senator Obama voted for the same policies that created the problem. In fact, he voted for the energy bill promoted by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, which gave even more breaks to the oil industry. I opposed it because I know we won't achieve energy independence by repeating the mistakes of the last half century. That's not change we can believe in.
With forward thinking Democrats and Republicans, I proposed a climate change policy that would greatly reduce our dependence on oil. Our approach was opposed by President Bush, and by leading Democrats, and it was defeated by opposition from special interests that favor Republicans and those that favor Democrats. Senator Obama might criticize special interests that give more money to Republicans. But you won't often see him take on those that favor him. If America is going to achieve energy independence, we need a President with a record of putting the nation's interests before the special interests of either party. I have that record. Senator Obama does not.
Senator Obama proposes to keep spending money on programs that make our problems worse and create new ones that are modeled on big government programs that created much of the fiscal mess we are in. He plans to pay for these increases by raising taxes on seniors, parents, small business owners and every American with even a modest investment in the market. He doesn't trust us to make decisions for ourselves and wants the government to make them for us. And that's not change we can believe in.
Senator Obama thinks we can improve health care by driving Americans into a new system of government orders, regulations and mandates. I believe we can make health care more available, affordable and responsive to patients by breaking from inflationary practices, insurance regulations, and tax policies that were designed generations ago, and by giving families more choices over their care. His plan represents the old ways of government. Mine trusts in the common sense of the American people.
Senator Obama pretends we can address the loss of manufacturing jobs by repealing trade agreements and refusing to sign new ones that we can build a stronger economy by limiting access to our markets and giving up access to foreign markets. The global economy exists and is not going away. We either compete in it or we lose more jobs, more businesses, more dreams. We lose the future. He's an intelligent man, and he must know how foolish it is to think Americans can remain prosperous without opening new markets to our goods and services. But he feels he must defer to the special interests that support him. That's not change we can believe in.
Lowering trade barriers to American goods and services creates more and better jobs keeps inflation under control keeps interest rates low and makes more goods affordable to more Americans. We won't compete successfully by using old technology to produce old goods. We'll succeed by knowing what to produce and inventing new technologies to produce it.
We are not people who believe only in the survival of the fittest. Work in America is more than a paycheck it a source of pride, self-reliance and identity. But making empty promises to bring back lost jobs gives nothing to the unemployed worker except false hope. That's not change we can believe in. Reforming from top to bottom unemployment insurance and retraining programs that were designed for the 1950s, making use of our community colleges to train people for new opportunities will help workers who've lost a job that won't come back, find a job that won't go away.
My friends, we're not a country that would rather go back than forward. We're the world's leader, and leaders don't hide from history. They make history. But if we're going to lead, we have to reform a government that has lost its ability to help us do so. The solution to our problems isn't to reach back to the 1960s and 70s for answers. In just a few years in office, Senator Obama has accumulated the most liberal voting record in the Senate. But the old, tired, big government policies he seeks to dust off and call new won't work in a world that has changed dramatically since they were last tried and failed. That's not change we can believe in.
The sweeping reforms of government we need won't occur unless we change the political habits of Washington that have locked us in an endless cycle of bickering and stalemate. Washington is consumed by a hyper-partisanship that treats every serious issue as an opportunity to trade insults impugn each other's motives and fight about the next election. This is the game Washington plays. Both parties play it, as do the special interests that support each side. The American people know it's not on the level. For all the problems we face, what frustrates them most about Washington is they don't think we're capable of serving the public interest before our personal ambitions that we fight for ourselves and not for them. They are sick of the politics of selfishness, stalemate and delay, and they have every right to be. We have to change not only government policies that have failed them, but the political culture that produced them.
Both Senator Obama and I promise we will end Washington's stagnant, unproductive partisanship. But one of us has a record of working to do that and one of us doesn't. Americans have seen me put aside partisan and personal interests to move this country forward. They haven't seen Senator Obama do the same. For all his fine words and all his promise, he has never taken the hard but right course of risking his own interests for yours of standing against the partisan rancor on his side to stand up for our country. He is an impressive man, who makes a great first impression. But he hasn't been willing to make the tough calls to challenge his party to risk criticism from his supporters to bring real change to Washington. I have.
When members of my party refused to compromise not on principle but for partisanship, I have sought to do so. When I fought corruption it didn't matter to me if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. I exposed it and let the chips fall where they may. When I worked on campaign finance and ethics reform, I did so with Democrats and Republicans, even though we were criticized by other members of our parties, who preferred to keep things as they were. I have never refused to work with Democrats simply for the sake of partisanship. I've always known we belong to different parties, not different countries. We are Americans before we are anything else.
I don't seek the presidency on the presumption I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the office with the humility of a man who cannot forget my country saved me. I'll reach out my hand to anyone, Republican or Democrat, who will help me change what needs to be changed fix what needs to be fixed and give this country a government as capable and good as the people it is supposed to serve. There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern. If I'm elected President, the era of the permanent campaign of the last sixteen years will end. The era of reform and problem solving will begin. From my first day in office, I'll work with anyone to make America safe, prosperous and proud. And I won't care who gets the credit as long as America gets the benefit.
I have seen Republicans and Democrats achieve great things together. When the stakes were high and it mattered most, I've seen them work together in common purpose, as we did in the weeks after September 11th. This kind of cooperation has made all the difference at crucial turns in our history. It has given us hope in difficult times. It has moved America forward. And that, my friends, is the kind of change we need right now.
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Here's a Brief History of Donald Trump's Feud with John McCain
P resident Donald Trump’s feud with Sen. John McCain did not end with the Arizona Republican’s death.
As a week of mourning began for the longtime senator and Vietnam War hero, the president once again found a way to make his feelings known, reportedly rejecting an official statement on his death and quickly returning the flag atop the White House to full staff.
The bad blood between the two men appears to have started as early as 1999, when Trump was asked about various candidates running for the Republican nomination in a Minutes” interview.
“He was captured … Does being captured make you a hero? I don’t know. I’m not sure,” he said.
It was an argument that Trump replayed early in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, when Trump explicitly argued that McCain was not a war hero just because he was captured and held for five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison, where he was repeatedly tortured.
“He&rsquos not a war hero,” Trump said at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa in July of 2015. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren&rsquot captured.”
In spite of the remarks, McCain backed Trump’s presidential campaign until the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped in which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women.
“I have wanted to support the candidate our party nominated. He was not my choice, but as a past nominee, I thought it important I respect the fact that Donald Trump won a majority of the delegates by the rules our party set,” McCain said in a statement. “But Donald Trump&rsquos behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”
Trump responded with a tweeted attack.
McCain later took a veiled swipe at Trump in an interview that aired on C-SPAN in 2017.
&ldquoOne aspect of the [Vietnam] conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,&rdquo said the Arizona Republican, who was battling cancer. &ldquoThat is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.&rdquo
Trump received five deferments during the War. Four while he was attending college and one after a doctor diagnosed him with bone spurs in his heels after he graduated. &ldquoI had a doctor that gave me a letter &mdash a very strong letter on the heels,&rdquo he told the New York Times in 2016.
And McCain delivered another blistering rebuke of the president’s approach to politics while receiving a Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center when he decried “half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.”
&ldquoTo fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century,” he said, is as “unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”
After the speech, the president warned that he will “fight back” when asked about it in an interview. “I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point I fight back, and it won’t be pretty,” he said.
Before that, Trump attacked McCain over his decisive vote against a Republican bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act. In a tweet, the president said he’d “Let Arizona down!” when he voted against the bill.
McCain was asked if he voted against the bill in an effort to get back at Trump for questioning his Vietnam War record in an interview with Minutes.”
McCain said the vote wasn’t personal, but said he and the president had notable differences, “Different upbringing. Different life experiences,” he said.
“He is in the business of making money and he has been successful both in television as well as Miss America and others,” he said. “I was raised in a military family.”
He continued: “I was raised in the concept and belief that duty, honor, country is the lodestar for the behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.”
John McCain concession speech
Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.
My friends, we have we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honour of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.
But we both recognise that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.
America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.
Let there be no reason now . Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.
Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
I urge all Americans . I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.
We fought we fought as hard as we could. And though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.
I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honour of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.
The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.
I'm especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother . my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.
I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.
You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate's family than on the candidate, and that's been true in this campaign.
All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.
I am also, I am also, of course, very thankful to governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen . one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength . her husband Todd and their five beautiful children . for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.
We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican party and our country.
To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenging campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.
I don't know, I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.
This campaign was and will remain the great honour of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honour of leading us for the next four years.
I would not, I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.
Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.
Tonight, tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama, whether they supported me or Senator Obama.
I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
Americans never quit. We never surrender.
We never hide from history. We make history.
Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.
John McCain's 2008 Concession Speech
After John McCain's cancer was announced, many people heaped praise on the senator. McCain gave a moving concession speech the night he lost the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008.
When people on all political sides have claimed Senator John McCain a hero this week after his diagnosis of cancer was announced, it wasn't just for his time as prisoner of war. It was for the way he's reached across the divides in American life, lampooned pomposity - including his own - often bucked his own party and has been both gruff and graceful. Remember the night he lost the presidency in 2008.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JOHN MCCAIN: This is an historic election. And I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight. I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
Tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama. Whether they supported me or Senator Obama, I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Thank you. And God bless you. And God bless America. Thank you all very much.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR&rsquos programming is the audio record.
John McCain Was Defiant as a POW and, Often, in Politics
“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.”
-Senator John McCain, Faith of Our Fathers
After a devastating ordeal as a POW in Vietnam, John McCain launched a political career, winning election to the U.S. Senate from Arizona for the first time in 1986. To his war-hero status, McCain added a reputation as a tough-talking, maverick politician unafraid to break ranks with the Republican Party on major issues like campaign finance and immigration reform. After a hard-fought primary battle for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain became the party’s standard-bearer in 2008, but lost in the general election to Barack Obama.
McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017 and had assumed a reduced role in the Senate since his diagnosis. He died Saturday, August 25, 2018 at age 81, four days before his 82nd birthday.
U.S. Navy flier Lt. Commander John Sydney McCain.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
The Young McCain
The son and grandson of four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy, John Sidney McCain III was born on August 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone. After a childhood and adolescence spent moving between different naval bases, he followed his forebears’ footsteps to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating in 1958.
As a volunteer for combat duty during the Vietnam War, McCain served as a ground-attack pilot, flying low-altitude bombing runs on the North Vietnamese. In July 1967, he narrowly escaped death while sitting in his jet aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal in the Gulf of Tonkin. A rocket from another aircraft accidentally fired, striking a nearby plane and starting a blaze that would kill 134 sailors.
John McCain in a Hanoi Hospital during the Vietnam War in November, 1967.
Ordeal in Vietnam
On October 26, 1967, McCain was flying his 23rd mission when enemy forces shot down his plane over Hanoi. Forced to eject, McCain landed in a lake, breaking both of his arms and one leg. Beaten severely by his North Vietnamese captors, he was soon transferred to the notorious Hoa Loa prison, dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton.” McCain would spend five grueling years as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam, enduring repeated bouts of torture and long periods of solitary confinement.
In mid-1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson made McCain’s father, John S. McCain Jr., commander-in-chief of all U.S. forces in the Pacific, including all forces in the Vietnam theater. Once his captors learned who his father was, they offered to release the younger McCain as a propaganda ploy. But he refused to violate the military code of conduct, insisting they would have to let go every American POW captured before him before he would accept his own release.
McCain finally came home in March 1973, soon after a ceasefire ended the conflict in Vietnam. His injuries, and the beatings he withstood in captivity, had left him unable to raise his arms above his head. Upon his return to the United States, he received a hero’s welcome, and was awarded military honors including the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and Prisoner of War Medal.
“Three things kept me going,” McCain told People magazinein a 1992 interview, speaking of his ordeal in Vietnam. ith in God, faith in my fellow prisoners and faith in my country.”
Navy Lieutenant Commander John McCain arrived at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, after his release from Hanoi during the Vietnam War in 1973. Richard Nixon personally welcomed him home after being a P.O.W for five and a half years.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Launching a Political Career
In 1977, McCain became the navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate, a position he later credited with beginning his career of public service. He left the post and retired from the U.S. Navy in 1981. After his first marriage, to Carol (Shepp) McCain, ended in divorce in 1980, McCain married Cindy Lou Hensley, a teacher and sole heiress to a large Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship in Arizona. McCain had adopted the two sons of his first wife, Doug and Andy he and Cindy had three children together—Meghan, Jack and Jimmy𠅊nd adopted another daughter, Bridget.
After relocating to Cindy’s home state, McCain ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, and was elected to represent Arizona’s 1st District in 1982. Four years later, he won the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring senator and former Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. In 1988, McCain delivered a well-received speech at the Republican National Convention.
US Senator John McCain in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington D.C., July 1996.
Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Early Career in the Senate
After just a few years in the Senate, McCain found himself embroiled in one of the most notorious savings-and-loans scandals of the late 1980s, thanks to his connection with Charles Keating Jr., owner of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of Irvine, California. Federal regulators seized control of Keating’s company and other assets in 1989, and later filed a $1.1 billion civil racketeering lawsuit against the banker and financier.
One of a group of senators known as the “Keating Five,” McCain was accused of improperly intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Keating, who had been a large contributor to his senatorial campaign. In 1991, the Senate Ethics Committee cleared McCain of wrongdoing, but concluded that he had exercised poor judgment.
In the wake of the Keating scandal, McCain emerged as a leading Senate champion of campaign finance reform. Teaming up with his liberal Democratic colleague Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, he fought for seven years to see the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act—which prohibited large contributions by individuals and corporations to national party committees𠅏inally become law in 2002.
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and his wife Cindy leaving the stage after McCain addressed residents of Peterborough, New Hampshire while on the campaign trail January 30, 2000.
In 2000, a year after published his bestselling autobiography ith of My Fathers,” McCain lost a hard-fought battle for the Republican presidential nomination to George W. Bush, then governor of Texas. During that campaign, McCain took his “maverick” brand of politics to the national stage, making headlines by calling for campaign finance reform and opposing tax cuts for the wealthy.
In the summer of 2000, McCain underwent surgery to remove melanoma skin lesions from his temple and upper arm he had another early-stage melanoma removed from his nose in 2003. But McCain’s health issues appeared to be of little concern by 2004, when he was elected to the Senate for a fourth term. Initially a steadfast advocate of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he later criticized the Bush administration’s conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the use of torture in the interrogation of suspected terrorism suspects.
Eight years after his first presidential run, a strong victory in the New Hampshire primary propelled McCain to the head of the Republican field. He secured the nomination that March, and in August announced his choice of running mate: Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. A social conservative, and the first woman ever nominated to a Republican national ticket, Palin generated initial enthusiasm, but her repeated gaffes and lack of experience ended up costing McCain in the general election. Despite his personal popularity, McCain’s identification with the Bush administration also hurt him with voters eager for change. Amid the nation’s mounting financial crisis, McCain lost the 2008 election to Barack Obama, then a junior senator from Illinois.
John McCain holding a hearing, as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, about U.S. military strategy in the Middle East in 2015.
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Later Senate Career
After his failed run for president, McCain won reelection to his seat in the Senate in 2010. During the later years of his Senate career, McCain worked on immigration reform with a bipartisan group of his colleagues. In 2014, when Republicans regained control of the Senate, McCain was tapped to head the Armed Services Committee.
Though McCain took the mainstream conservative line on most issues throughout his Senate career, he also diverged from his party on issues like campaign finance reform, climate change and immigration reform, working side by side with prominent Democrats like Ted Kennedy (before Kennedy’s death in 2009) on the latter issue.
In 2016, McCain won election to a sixth term in the Senate, at the age of 80. During that tumultuous campaign year, he was one of numerous members of his party to withdraw his endorsement of then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, after a 2005 recording surfaced of Trump bragging about making unwelcome sexual advances on women. Earlier, during the primary campaign, Trump had derided McCain’s war hero status, stating at a candidates’ forum in Iowa that “I like people who weren’t captured.”
Once Trump was elected, McCain supported the creation of a special committee to look into the conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and possible collusion by the Trump campaign in those efforts. During President Trump’s first year in office, McCain was a frequent critic of the administration, particularly on issues of foreign policy and national security.
Senator John McCain standing with Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson and Bill Cassidy, as they hold a news conference to say they would not support a ‘Skinny Repeal’ of health care at the U.S. Capitol on July 27, 2017.
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Illness and Final Months in the Senate
In mid-July 2017, after McCain underwent surgery to remove a blood clot over his left eye, it was announced that he was suffering from glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain tumor with a grim prognosis. Less than a week after undergoing surgery, McCain returned to Washington to cast a key votethat kept alive Republican hopes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature piece of health care legislation. Despite his “yes” vote, McCain delivered a speech that fiercely criticized the existing Senate health care bill and the closed-door process that produced it, saying: “I will not vote for the bill as it is today.” McCain’s vote brought the total to 50-50, after which Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie in the Republicans’ favor.
But three days later, McCain lived up to his “maverick” reputation once again, joining two other Republicans (Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine) and all 43 Democrats in the Senate in voting againstthe so-called “skinny repeal” bill, shutting down the Republicans’ best chance for eliminating the Affordable Care Act. In explaining his “no” vote, McCain again criticized other Senate Republicans for crafting the bill out of public view, and called for Republicans and Democrats to put aside partisan loyalties and work on finding some common ground.
McCain&aposs family released a statement on August 24, 2018 that he would discontinue receiving treatment for his cancer, saying he had surpassed expectations for his survival but “the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict.”
“I have long believed that the true worth of a person is measured by how faithfully we serve a cause greater than our self-interest, that encompasses us but is not defined by our existence alone. . .The same holds true for the conduct of nations.” – Senator John McCain Commencement Speech for Northwestern University 2005
Sixteen years ago today, Senator John McCain congratulated Northwestern University graduates and seized the opportunity of the commencement speech to discuss the need for human rights-driven foreign policy for the United States. In 2021, McCain’s commencement address remains a call to action, for not only policymakers and NGOs, but for all people. In such uncertain and unprecedented times, the Senator’s speech remains as relevant and important today as in 2005 and serves as guidance for a path forward after the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused major disruption, isolation and havoc globally. Vulnerable communities face extreme hardship as the vaccine rollout remains unreliable in many areas of the world, due to stark differences in access to resources and information. As the United States reopens, we have a duty to assess our role in overcoming the virus worldwide, as well as protecting and advancing human rights. As Senator McCain stated, “I have long believed that the true worth of a person is measured by how faithfully we serve a cause greater than our self-interest, that encompasses us but is not defined by our existence alone…The same holds true for the conduct of nations.” These wise words not only inspired the graduating class of 2005, but they should serve as a clarion call for all of us as we reflect upon the role of the United States in a post-COVID-19 era.
According to the White House, 52% of American adults are fully vaccinated. With vaccine rates rising in the United States, and with COVID-19 isolation slowly receding, we begin to consider what a post-pandemic world might look like. The past 16 months have been a unique period in American history as our relations have become more isolated both at home and globally. As the world reopens, there is an opportunity to reassess our engagement in the world and to revisit Senator McCain’s remarks:
“We claim [ ] that people no matter where they live, no matter their history or religious beliefs or the size of their GDP, all people share a basic desire to be free to make their own choices and industry better lives for themselves and their children. And furthermore, that it is in the security interests of the United States and is inseparable from the moral foundation of our national character that we should do all that is practical to help them wrest their rights from regimes that do not govern with their people’s consent.” (NorthwesternU)
Toward the end of his speech, Sen. McCain spoke of the genocidal atrocities that occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia positing the moral basis for American intervention as a force for good. He passionately shared his viewpoint regarding the importance of America in times of international crisis to forestall these types of human catastrophic events. As we regather and reassess in a world still grappling with the effects of a pandemic, we have a duty to remain proactive in our efforts to do good and to mitigate human rights violations globally.
The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University’s Human Rights and Democracy program – guided by the example and legacy of John McCain – provides opportunities to assess, discuss and formulate the role that the United States can play to improve lives throughout the world. The McCain Institute completed a research project in 2018 to ascertain the public’s opinion on human rights. According to the results of this project, there was a “significant lack of common understanding and support for the need to protect basic human rights and freedoms in the world . . . particularly among younger Americans” (Human Rights and Democracy Programs – McCain Institute). Sen. McCain’s speech to young adults having just completed their Northwestern undergraduate degrees, encouraged a younger demographic to effectuate change concerning human rights issues. Despite political divisiveness at home and constantly shifting geopolitics, the U.S. can and must fulfill its noble calling, and Sen. McCain understood the criticality of educating future generations regarding America’s unique role in defending global human rights.
The co-phenomena of social media and the pandemic have created a virtually unlimited opportunity to engage and educate vast numbers of target demographics. High quality and interesting visuals inform social media users and as a result are consumed and shared by millions of our youth. While technology and social media platforms offer tremendous opportunities for creating awareness and starting conversation, caution is vital as these tools are not without pitfalls. Engaging and educating via these platforms is a complex process that requires thoughtful and compelling content able to compete with a myriad of other sources. The development and implementation of entertaining and informative social media campaigns would serve to reach and educate a young demographic, with the intention of spreading awareness and engaging an audience that would otherwise remain uninformed about important subjects.
McCain’s commencement address from 16 years ago is a valuable guide during this incredibly challenging time. In a post-pandemic world, the leadership role of the United States, regarding human rights is of paramount importance. As we consider the future, the U.S. must heed the words of Sen. McCain and approach foreign affairs morally and ethically. Senator McCain quoted the words of President Jimmy Carter, “America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, human rights invented America.” After an extraordinary period of separation, fear, death and political change, we, as a country, must remember the “character of the nation,” and the role of America using Sen. McCain’s words as a guiding principle.
Early life and education
John Sidney McCain III was born on August 29, 1936, at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain Jr. and Roberta (Wright) McCain. He had an older sister Sandy and a younger brother Joe.  At that time, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control. 
McCain's family tree includes Scots-Irish and English ancestors.  His great-great-great-grandparents owned High Rock Farm, a plantation in Rockingham County, North Carolina.  His father and his paternal grandfather, John S. McCain Sr., were also Naval Academy graduates and both became four-star admirals in the United States Navy.  The McCain family moved with their father as he took various naval postings in the United States and in the Pacific.  
As a result, he attended a total of about 20 schools.  In 1951, the family settled in Northern Virginia, and McCain attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria.   He excelled at wrestling and graduated in 1954.   He referred to himself as an Episcopalian as recently as June 2007, after which date he said he came to identify as a Baptist. 
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, McCain entered the United States Naval Academy, where he was a friend and informal leader for many of his classmates  and sometimes stood up for targets of bullying.  He also fought as a lightweight boxer.  McCain did well in academic subjects that interested him, such as literature and history, but studied only enough to pass subjects that gave him difficulty, such as mathematics.   He came into conflict with higher-ranking personnel and did not always obey the rules, which contributed to a low class rank (894 of 899), despite a high IQ.   McCain graduated in 1958. 
Naval training, first marriage, and Vietnam War assignment
McCain began his early military career when he was commissioned as an ensign, and started two and a half years of training at Pensacola to become a naval aviator.  While there, he earned a reputation as a man who partied.  He completed flight school in 1960, and became a naval pilot of ground-attack aircraft he was assigned to A-1 Skyraider squadrons  aboard the aircraft carriers USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise  in the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.  McCain began as a sub-par flier  who was at times careless and reckless  during the early to mid-1960s, two of his flight missions crashed, and a third mission collided with power lines, but he received no major injuries.  His aviation skills improved over time,  and he was seen as a good pilot, albeit one who tended to "push the envelope" in his flying. 
On July 3, 1965, McCain was 28 when he married Carol Shepp, who had worked as a runway model and secretary.  McCain adopted her two young children, Douglas and Andrew.   He and Carol then had a daughter whom they named Sidney.  
McCain requested a combat assignment,  and was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal flying A-4 Skyhawks.  His combat duty began when he was 30 years old in mid-1967, when Forrestal was assigned to a bombing campaign, Operation Rolling Thunder, during the Vietnam War.   Stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, McCain and his fellow pilots became frustrated by micromanagement from Washington, and he later wrote, "In all candor, we thought our civilian commanders were complete idiots who didn't have the least notion of what it took to win the war."  
On July 29, 1967, McCain was a lieutenant commander when he was near the center of the USS Forrestal fire. He escaped from his burning jet and was trying to help another pilot escape when a bomb exploded  McCain was struck in the legs and chest by fragments.  The ensuing fire killed 134 sailors and took 24 hours to control.   With the Forrestal out of commission, McCain volunteered for assignment with the USS Oriskany, another aircraft carrier employed in Operation Rolling Thunder.  There, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star Medal for missions flown over North Vietnam. 
Prisoner of war
McCain was taken prisoner of war on October 26, 1967. He was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam when his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down by a missile over Hanoi.   McCain fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft,  and nearly drowned after he parachuted into Trúc Bạch Lake. Some North Vietnamese pulled him ashore, then others crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him.  McCain was then transported to Hanoi's main Hỏa Lò Prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton". 
Although McCain was seriously wounded and injured, his captors refused to treat him. They beat and interrogated him to get information, and he was given medical care only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was an admiral.  His status as a prisoner of war (POW) made the front pages of major American newspapers.  
McCain spent six weeks in the hospital, where he received marginal care. He had lost 50 pounds (23 kg), he was in a chest cast, and his gray hair had turned white.  McCain was sent to a different camp on the outskirts of Hanoi.  In December 1967, McCain was placed in a cell with two other Americans, who did not expect him to live more than a week.  In March 1968, McCain was placed into solitary confinement, where he remained for two years. 
In mid-1968, his father John S. McCain Jr. was named commander of all U.S. forces in the Vietnam theater, and the North Vietnamese offered McCain early release  because they wanted to appear merciful for propaganda purposes,  and also to show other POWs that elite prisoners were willing to be treated preferentially.  McCain refused repatriation unless every man taken in before him was also released. Such early release was prohibited by the POWs' interpretation of the military Code of Conduct, which states in Article III: “I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.”  To prevent the enemy from using prisoners for propaganda, officers were to agree to be released in the order in which they were captured. 
Beginning in August 1968, McCain was subjected to a program of severe torture.  He was bound and beaten every two hours this punishment occurred at the same time that he was suffering from heat exhaustion and dysentery.   Further injuries brought McCain to “the point of suicide,” but his preparations were interrupted by guards. Eventually, McCain made an anti-U.S. propaganda "confession."  He had always felt that his statement was dishonorable, but as he later wrote, "I had learned what we all learned over there: every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."   Many U.S. POWs were tortured and maltreated in order to extract "confessions" and propaganda statements  virtually all of them eventually yielded something to their captors.  McCain received two to three beatings weekly because of his continued refusal to sign additional statements. 
McCain refused to meet various anti-war groups seeking peace in Hanoi, wanting to give neither them nor the North Vietnamese a propaganda victory.  From late 1969, treatment of McCain and many of the other POWs became more tolerable,  while McCain continued to resist the camp authorities.  McCain and other prisoners cheered the U.S. "Christmas Bombing" campaign of December 1972, viewing it as a forceful measure to push North Vietnam to terms.  
McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years, until his release on March 14, 1973, along with 108 other prisoners of war.  His wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.  After the war, McCain, accompanied by his family and his second wife Cindy, returned to the site on a few occasions in efforts of trying to come to terms with what had happened to him there during his capture. 
Commanding officer, liaison to Senate, and second marriage
McCain was reunited with his family when he returned to the United States. His wife Carol had been severely injured by an automobile accident in December 1969. She was then four inches shorter, in a wheelchair or on crutches, and substantially heavier than when he had last seen her. As a returned POW, he became a celebrity of sorts. 
McCain underwent treatment for his injuries that included months of physical therapy.  He attended the National War College at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. during 1973–1974.  He was rehabilitated by late 1974, and his flight status was reinstated. In 1976, he became Commanding Officer of a training squadron that was stationed in Florida.   He improved the unit's flight readiness and safety records,  and won the squadron its first-ever Meritorious Unit Commendation.  During this period in Florida, he had extramarital affairs, and his marriage began to falter, about which he later stated: "The blame was entirely mine".  
McCain served as the Navy's liaison to the U.S. Senate beginning in 1977.  In retrospect, he said that this represented his "real entry into the world of politics, and the beginning of my second career as a public servant."  His key behind-the-scenes role gained congressional financing for a new supercarrier against the wishes of the Carter administration.  
In April 1979,  McCain met Cindy Lou Hensley, a teacher from Phoenix, Arizona, whose father had founded a large beer distributorship.  They began dating, and he urged his wife, Carol, to grant him a divorce, which she did in February 1980 the uncontested divorce took effect in April 1980.   The settlement included two houses, and financial support for her ongoing medical treatments due to her 1969 car accident they remained on good terms.  McCain and Hensley were married on May 17, 1980, with Senators William Cohen and Gary Hart attending as groomsmen.   McCain's children did not attend, and several years passed before they reconciled.   John and Cindy McCain entered into a prenuptial agreement that kept most of her family's assets under her name they kept their finances apart, and filed separate income tax returns. 
McCain decided to leave the Navy. It was doubtful whether he would ever be promoted to the rank of full admiral, as he had poor annual physicals and had not been given a major sea command.  His chances of being promoted to rear admiral were better, but he declined that prospect, as he had already made plans to run for Congress and said he could "do more good there."  
McCain retired from the Navy as a captain on April 1, 1981.   He was designated as disabled and awarded a disability pension.  Upon leaving the military, he moved to Arizona. His numerous military decorations and awards include: the Silver Star, two Legion of Merits, Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and the Prisoner of War Medal. 
McCain set his sights on becoming a representative because he was interested in current events, was ready for a new challenge, and had developed political ambitions during his time as Senate liaison.    Living in Phoenix, he went to work for Hensley & Co., his new father-in-law Jim Hensley's large Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship.  As vice president of public relations at the distributorship, he gained political support among the local business community, meeting powerful figures such as banker Charles Keating Jr., real estate developer Fife Symington III (later Governor of Arizona) and newspaper publisher Darrow "Duke" Tully.  In 1982, McCain ran as a Republican for an open seat in Arizona's 1st congressional district, which was being vacated by 30-year incumbent Republican John Jacob Rhodes.  A newcomer to the state, McCain was hit with charges of being a carpetbagger.  McCain responded to a voter making that charge with what a Phoenix Gazette columnist later described as "the most devastating response to a potentially troublesome political issue I've ever heard": 
Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.  
McCain won a highly contested primary election with the assistance of local political endorsements, his Washington connections, and money that his wife lent to his campaign.   He then easily won the general election in the heavily Republican district. 
In 1983, McCain was elected to lead the incoming group of Republican representatives,  and was assigned to the House Committee on Interior Affairs. Also that year, he opposed creation of a federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but admitted in 2008: "I was wrong and eventually realized that, in time to give full support [in 1990] for a state holiday in Arizona."  
At this point, McCain's politics were mainly in line with those of President Ronald Reagan this included support for Reaganomics, and he was active on Indian Affairs bills.  He supported most aspects of the foreign policy of the Reagan administration, including its hardline stance against the Soviet Union and policy towards Central American conflicts, such as backing the Contras in Nicaragua.  McCain opposed keeping U.S. Marines deployed in Lebanon, citing unattainable objectives, and subsequently criticized President Reagan for pulling out the troops too late in the interim, the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing killed hundreds.   McCain won re-election to the House easily in 1984,  and gained a spot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  In 1985, he made his first return trip to Vietnam,  and also traveled to Chile where he met with its military junta ruler, General Augusto Pinochet.   
In 1984, McCain and Cindy had their first child, daughter Meghan, followed two years later by son John IV and in 1988 by son James.  In 1991, Cindy brought an abandoned three-month-old girl needing medical treatment to the U.S. from a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Teresa.  The McCains decided to adopt her and she was named Bridget. 
First two terms in the U.S. Senate
McCain's Senate career began in January 1987, after he defeated his Democratic opponent, former state legislator Richard Kimball, by 20 percentage points in the 1986 election.   McCain succeeded Arizona native, conservative icon, and the 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater upon Goldwater's retirement as U.S. senator from Arizona for 30 years.  In January 1988, McCain voted in favor of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987,  and voted to override President Reagan's veto of that legislation the following March. 
Senator McCain became a member of the Armed Services Committee, with which he had formerly done his Navy liaison work he also joined the Commerce Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee.  He continued to support the Native American agenda.  As first a House member and then a senator—and as a lifelong gambler with close ties to the gambling industry  —McCain was one of the main authors of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,   which codified rules regarding Native American gambling enterprises.  McCain was also a strong supporter of the Gramm-Rudman legislation that enforced automatic spending cuts in the case of budget deficits. 
McCain soon gained national visibility. He delivered a well-received speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention, was mentioned by the press as a short list vice-presidential running mate for Republican nominee George H. W. Bush, and was named chairman of Veterans for Bush.  
McCain became embroiled in a scandal during the 1980s, as one of five United States senators comprising the so-called Keating Five.  Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received $112,000 in lawful  political contributions from Charles Keating Jr. and his associates at Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, along with trips on Keating's jets  that McCain belatedly repaid, in 1989.  In 1987, McCain was one of the five senators whom Keating contacted in order to prevent the government's seizure of Lincoln, and McCain met twice with federal regulators to discuss the government's investigation of Lincoln.  In 1999, McCain said: "The appearance of it was wrong. It's a wrong appearance when a group of senators appear in a meeting with a group of regulators, because it conveys the impression of undue and improper influence. And it was the wrong thing to do."  In the end, McCain was cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee of acting improperly or violating any law or Senate rule, but was mildly rebuked for exercising "poor judgment".   
In his 1992 re-election bid, the Keating Five affair was not a major issue,  and he won handily, gaining 56 percent of the vote to defeat Democratic community and civil rights activist Claire Sargent and independent former governor, Evan Mecham. 
McCain developed a reputation for independence during the 1990s.  He took pride in challenging party leadership and establishment forces, becoming difficult to categorize politically. 
As a member of the 1991–1993 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, chaired by fellow Vietnam War veteran and Democrat, John Kerry, McCain investigated the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, to determine the fate of U.S. service personnel listed as missing in action during the Vietnam War.  The committee's unanimous report stated there was "no compelling evidence that proves that any American remains alive in captivity in Southeast Asia."  Helped by McCain's efforts, in 1995 the U.S. normalized diplomatic relations with Vietnam.  McCain was vilified by some POW/MIA activists who, despite the committee's unanimous report, believed large numbers of Americans were still held against their will in Southeast Asia.    From January 1993 until his death, McCain was Chairman of the International Republican Institute, an organization partly funded by the U.S. government that supports the emergence of political democracy worldwide. 
In 1993 and 1994, McCain voted to confirm President Clinton's nominees Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg whom he considered to be qualified for the U.S. Supreme Court. He later explained that "under our Constitution, it is the president's call to make."  McCain had also voted to confirm nominees of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. 
Campaign Finance Reform
McCain attacked what he saw as the corrupting influence of large political contributions—from corporations, labor unions, other organizations, and wealthy individuals—and he made this his signature issue.  Starting in 1994, he worked with Democratic Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform their McCain–Feingold bill attempted to put limits on "soft money".  The efforts of McCain and Feingold were opposed by some of the moneyed interests targeted, by incumbents in both parties, by those who felt spending limits impinged on free political speech and might be unconstitutional as well, and by those who wanted to counterbalance the power of what they saw as media bias.   Despite sympathetic coverage in the media, initial versions of the McCain–Feingold Act were filibustered and never came to a vote. 
The term "maverick Republican" became a label frequently applied to McCain, and he also used it himself.    In 1993, McCain opposed military operations in Somalia.  Another target of his was pork barrel spending by Congress, and he actively supported the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, which gave the president power to veto individual spending items  but was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998. 
In the 1996 presidential election, McCain was again on the short list of possible vice-presidential picks, this time for Republican nominee Bob Dole.   The following year, Time magazine named McCain as one of the "25 Most Influential People in America". 
In 1997, McCain became chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee he was criticized for accepting funds from corporations and businesses under the committee's purview, but in response said the small contributions he received were not part of the big-money nature of the campaign finance problem.  McCain took on the tobacco industry in 1998, proposing legislation that would increase cigarette taxes in order to fund anti-smoking campaigns, discourage teenage smokers, increase money for health research studies, and help states pay for smoking-related health care costs.   Supported by the Clinton administration but opposed by the industry and most Republicans, the bill failed to gain cloture. 
Start of third term in the U.S. Senate
In November 1998, McCain won re-election to a third Senate term he prevailed in a landslide over his Democratic opponent, environmental lawyer Ed Ranger.  In the February 1999 Senate trial following the impeachment of Bill Clinton, McCain voted to convict the president on both the perjury and obstruction of justice counts, saying Clinton had violated his sworn oath of office.  In March 1999, McCain voted to approve the NATO bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, saying that the ongoing genocide of the Kosovo War must be stopped and criticizing past Clinton administration inaction.  Later in 1999, McCain shared the Profile in Courage Award with Feingold for their work in trying to enact their campaign finance reform,  although the bill was still failing repeated attempts to gain cloture. 
In August 1999, McCain's memoir Faith of My Fathers, co-authored with Mark Salter, was published  a reviewer observed that its appearance "seems to have been timed to the unfolding Presidential campaign."  The most successful of his writings, it received positive reviews,  became a bestseller,  and was later made into a TV film.  The book traces McCain's family background and childhood, covers his time at Annapolis and his service before and during the Vietnam War, concluding with his release from captivity in 1973. According to one reviewer, it describes "the kind of challenges that most of us can barely imagine. It's a fascinating history of a remarkable military family." 
McCain announced his candidacy for president on September 27, 1999, in Nashua, New Hampshire, saying he was staging "a fight to take our government back from the power brokers and special interests, and return it to the people and the noble cause of freedom it was created to serve".   The frontrunner for the Republican nomination was Texas Governor George W. Bush, who had the political and financial support of most of the party establishment, whereas McCain was supported by many moderate Republicans and some conservative Republicans. 
McCain focused on the New Hampshire primary, where his message appealed to independents.  He traveled on a campaign bus called the Straight Talk Express.  He held many town hall meetings, answering every question voters asked, in a successful example of "retail politics", and he used free media to compensate for his lack of funds.  One reporter later recounted that, "McCain talked all day long with reporters on his Straight Talk Express bus he talked so much that sometimes he said things that he shouldn't have, and that's why the media loved him."  On February 1, 2000, he won New Hampshire's primary with 49 percent of the vote to Bush's 30 percent. The Bush campaign and the Republican establishment feared that a McCain victory in the crucial South Carolina primary might give his campaign unstoppable momentum.  
The Arizona Republic wrote that the McCain–Bush primary contest in South Carolina "has entered national political lore as a low-water mark in presidential campaigns", while The New York Times called it "a painful symbol of the brutality of American politics".    A variety of interest groups, which McCain had challenged in the past, ran negative ads.   Bush borrowed McCain's earlier language of reform,  and declined to dissociate himself from a veterans activist who accused McCain (in Bush's presence) of having "abandoned the veterans" on POW/MIA and Agent Orange issues.  
Incensed,  McCain ran ads accusing Bush of lying and comparing the governor to Bill Clinton, which Bush said was "about as low a blow as you can give in a Republican primary".  An anonymous smear campaign began against McCain, delivered by push polls, faxes, e-mails, flyers, and audience plants.   The smears claimed that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock (the McCains' dark-skinned daughter was adopted from Bangladesh), that his wife Cindy was a drug addict, that he was a homosexual, and that he was a "Manchurian Candidate" who was either a traitor or mentally unstable from his North Vietnam POW days.   The Bush campaign strongly denied any involvement with the attacks.  
McCain lost South Carolina on February 19, with 42 percent of the vote to Bush's 53 percent,  in part because Bush mobilized the state's evangelical voters   and outspent McCain.  The win allowed Bush to regain lost momentum.  McCain said of the rumor spreaders, "I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like those."  According to one acquaintance, the South Carolina experience left him in a "very dark place". 
McCain's campaign never completely recovered from his South Carolina defeat, although he did rebound partially by winning in Arizona and Michigan a few days later.  He made a speech in Virginia Beach that criticized Christian leaders, including Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, as divisive conservatives,  declaring ". we embrace the fine members of the religious conservative community. But that does not mean that we will pander to their self-appointed leaders."  McCain lost the Virginia primary on February 29,  and on March 7 lost nine of the thirteen primaries on Super Tuesday to Bush.  With little hope of overcoming Bush's delegate lead, McCain withdrew from the race on March 9, 2000.  He endorsed Bush two months later,  and made occasional appearances with the Texas governor during the general election campaign. 
Remainder of third Senate term
McCain began 2001 by breaking with the new George W. Bush administration on a number of matters, including HMO reform, climate change, and gun control legislation McCain–Feingold was opposed by Bush as well.   In May 2001, McCain was one of only two Senate Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts.   Besides the differences with Bush on ideological grounds, there was considerable antagonism between the two remaining from the previous year's campaign.   Later, when a Republican senator, Jim Jeffords, became an Independent, thereby throwing control of the Senate to the Democrats, McCain defended Jeffords against "self-appointed enforcers of party loyalty".  Indeed, there was speculation at the time, and in years since, about McCain himself leaving the Republican Party, but McCain had always adamantly denied that he ever considered doing so.    Beginning in 2001, McCain used political capital gained from his presidential run, as well as improved legislative skills and relationships with other members, to become one of the Senate's most influential members. 
After the September 11, 2001, attacks, McCain supported Bush and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.   He and Democratic senator Joe Lieberman wrote the legislation that created the 9/11 Commission,  while he and Democratic senator Fritz Hollings co-sponsored the Aviation and Transportation Security Act that federalized airport security. 
In March 2002, McCain–Feingold, officially known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, passed in both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bush.   Seven years in the making, it was McCain's greatest legislative achievement.  
Meanwhile, in discussions over proposed U.S. action against Iraq, McCain was a strong supporter of the Bush administration's position.  He stated that Iraq was "a clear and present danger to the United States of America", and voted accordingly for the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002.  He predicted that U.S. forces would be treated as liberators by a large number of the Iraqi people.  In May 2003, McCain voted against the second round of Bush tax cuts, saying it was unwise at a time of war.  By November 2003, after a trip to Iraq, he was publicly questioning Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, saying that more U.S. troops were needed the following year, McCain announced that he had lost confidence in Rumsfeld.  
In October 2003, McCain and Lieberman co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act that would have introduced a cap and trade system aimed at returning greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels the bill was defeated with 55 votes to 43 in the Senate.  They reintroduced modified versions of the Act two additional times, for the final time in January 2007 with the co-sponsorship of Barack Obama, among others. 
In the 2004 U.S. presidential election campaign, McCain was once again frequently mentioned for the vice-presidential slot, only this time as part of the Democratic ticket under nominee John Kerry.    McCain said that Kerry had never formally offered him the position and that he would not have accepted it if he had.    At the 2004 Republican National Convention, McCain supported Bush for re-election, praising Bush's management of the War on Terror since the September 11 attacks.  At the same time, he defended Kerry's Vietnam War record.  By August 2004, McCain had the best favorable-to-unfavorable rating (55 percent to 19 percent) of any national politician  he campaigned for Bush much more than he had four years previously, though the two remained situational allies rather than friends. 
McCain was also up for re-election as senator, in 2004. He defeated little-known Democratic schoolteacher Stuart Starky with his biggest margin of victory, garnering 77 percent of the vote. 
Start of fourth Senate term
In May 2005, McCain led the so-called Gang of 14 in the Senate, which established a compromise that preserved the ability of senators to filibuster judicial nominees, but only in "extraordinary circumstances".  The compromise took the steam out of the filibuster movement, but some Republicans remained disappointed that the compromise did not eliminate filibusters of judicial nominees in all circumstances.  McCain subsequently cast Supreme Court confirmation votes in favor of John Roberts and Samuel Alito, calling them "two of the finest justices ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court." 
Breaking from his 2001 and 2003 votes, McCain supported the Bush tax cut extension in May 2006, saying not to do so would amount to a tax increase.  Working with Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, McCain was a strong proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, which would involve legalization, guest worker programs, and border enforcement components. The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act was never voted on in 2005, while the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 passed the Senate in May 2006 but failed in the House.  In June 2007, President Bush, McCain, and others made the strongest push yet for such a bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, but it aroused intense grassroots opposition among talk radio listeners and others, some of whom furiously characterized the proposal as an "amnesty" program,  and the bill twice failed to gain cloture in the Senate. 
By the middle of the 2000s (decade), the increased Indian gaming that McCain had helped bring about was a $23 billion industry.  He was twice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, in 1995–1997 and 2005–2007, and his Committee helped expose the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal.   By 2005 and 2006, McCain was pushing for amendments to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which would have limited creation of off-reservation casinos,  and also limited the movement of tribes across state lines to build casinos. 
Owing to his time as a POW, McCain was recognized for his sensitivity to the detention and interrogation of detainees in the War on Terror. An opponent of the Bush administration's use of torture and detention without trial at Guantánamo Bay, saying: "some of these guys are terrible, terrible killers and the worst kind of scum of humanity. But, one, they deserve to have some adjudication of their cases . even Adolf Eichmann got a trial".  In October 2005, McCain introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for 2005, and the Senate voted 90–9 to support the amendment.  It prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantánamo, by confining military interrogations to the techniques in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation. Although Bush had threatened to veto the bill if McCain's amendment was included,  the President announced in December 2005 that he accepted McCain's terms and would "make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention of torture, whether it be here at home or abroad".  This stance, among others, led to McCain being named by Time magazine in 2006 as one of America's 10 Best Senators.  McCain voted in February 2008 against a bill containing a ban on waterboarding,  which provision was later narrowly passed and vetoed by Bush. However, the bill in question contained other provisions to which McCain objected, and his spokesman stated: "This wasn't a vote on waterboarding. This was a vote on applying the standards of the [Army] field manual to CIA personnel." 
Meanwhile, McCain continued questioning the progress of the war in Iraq. In September 2005, he remarked upon Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers' optimistic outlook on the war's progress: "Things have not gone as well as we had planned or expected, nor as we were told by you, General Myers."  In August 2006, he criticized the administration for continually understating the effectiveness of the insurgency: "We [have] not told the American people how tough and difficult this could be."  From the beginning, McCain strongly supported the Iraq troop surge of 2007.  The strategy's opponents labeled it "McCain's plan"  and University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said, "McCain owns Iraq just as much as Bush does now."  The surge and the war were unpopular during most of the year, even within the Republican Party,  as McCain's presidential campaign was underway faced with the consequences, McCain frequently responded, "I would much rather lose a campaign than a war."  In March 2008, McCain credited the surge strategy with reducing violence in Iraq, as he made his eighth trip to that country since the war began. 
McCain formally announced his intention to run for President of the United States on April 25, 2007, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  He stated that: "I'm not running for president to be somebody, but to do something to do the hard but necessary things, not the easy and needless things." 
McCain's oft-cited strengths as a presidential candidate for 2008 included national name recognition, sponsorship of major lobbying and campaign finance reform initiatives, his ability to reach across the aisle, his well-known military service and experience as a POW, his experience from the 2000 presidential campaign, and an expectation that he would capture Bush's top fundraisers.  During the 2006 election cycle, McCain had attended 346 events  and helped raise more than $10.5 million on behalf of Republican candidates. McCain also became more willing to ask business and industry for campaign contributions, while maintaining that such contributions would not affect any official decisions he would make.  Despite being considered the front-runner for the nomination by pundits as 2007 began,  McCain was in second place behind former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani in national Republican polls as the year progressed.
McCain had fundraising problems in the first half of 2007, due in part to his support for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was unpopular among the Republican base electorate.   Large-scale campaign staff downsizing took place in early July, but McCain said that he was not considering dropping out of the race.  Later that month, the candidate's campaign manager and campaign chief strategist both departed.  McCain slumped badly in national polls, often running third or fourth with 15 percent or less support.
The Arizona senator subsequently resumed his familiar position as a political underdog,  riding the Straight Talk Express and taking advantage of free media such as debates and sponsored events.  By December 2007, the Republican race was unsettled, with none of the top-tier candidates dominating the race and all of them possessing major vulnerabilities with different elements of the Republican base electorate.  McCain was showing a resurgence, in particular with renewed strength in New Hampshire—the scene of his 2000 triumph—and was bolstered further by the endorsements of The Boston Globe, the New Hampshire Union Leader, and almost two dozen other state newspapers,  as well as from Senator Lieberman (now an Independent Democrat).   McCain decided not to campaign significantly in the January 3, 2008, Iowa caucuses, which saw a win by former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee.
McCain's comeback plan paid off when he won the New Hampshire primary on January 8, defeating former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney in a close contest, to once again become one of the front-runners in the race.  In mid-January, McCain placed first in the South Carolina primary, narrowly defeating Mike Huckabee.  Pundits credited the third-place finisher, Tennessee's former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, with drawing votes from Huckabee in South Carolina, thereby giving a narrow win to McCain.  A week later, McCain won the Florida primary,  beating Romney again in a close contest Giuliani then dropped out and endorsed McCain. 
On February 5, McCain won both the majority of states and delegates in the Super Tuesday Republican primaries, giving him a commanding lead toward the Republican nomination. Romney departed from the race on February 7.  McCain's wins in the March 4 primaries clinched a majority of the delegates, and he became the presumptive Republican nominee. 
McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone. Had he been elected, he would have become the first president who was born outside the contiguous forty-eight states. This raised a potential legal issue, since the United States Constitution requires the president to be a natural-born citizen of the United States. A bipartisan legal review,  and a unanimous but non-binding Senate resolution,  both concluded that he was a natural-born citizen. If inaugurated in 2009 at the age of 72 years and 144 days, he would have been the oldest person to become president. 
McCain addressed concerns about his age and past health issues, stating in 2005 that his health was "excellent".  He had been treated for melanoma and an operation in 2000 for that condition left a noticeable mark on the left side of his face.  McCain's prognosis appeared favorable, according to independent experts, especially because he had already survived without a recurrence for more than seven years.  In May 2008, McCain's campaign briefly let the press review his medical records, and he was described as appearing cancer-free, having a strong heart, and in general being in good health. 
McCain clinched enough delegates for the nomination and his focus shifted toward the general election, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought a prolonged battle for the Democratic nomination.  McCain introduced various policy proposals, and sought to improve his fundraising.   Cindy McCain, who accounted for most of the couple's wealth with an estimated net worth of $100 million,  made part of her tax returns public in May.  After facing criticism about lobbyists on staff, the McCain campaign issued new rules in May 2008 to avoid conflicts of interest, causing five top aides to leave.  
When Obama became the Democrats' presumptive nominee in early June, McCain proposed joint town hall meetings, but Obama instead requested more traditional debates for the fall.  In July, a staff shake-up put Steve Schmidt in full operational control of the McCain campaign.  Rick Davis remained as campaign manager but with a reduced role. Davis had also managed McCain's 2000 presidential campaign in 2005 and 2006, U.S. intelligence warned McCain's Senate staff about Davis's Russian links but gave no further warnings.    
Throughout the summer of 2008, Obama typically led McCain in national polls by single-digit margins,  and also led in several key swing states.  McCain reprised his familiar underdog role, which was due at least in part to the overall challenges Republicans faced in the election year.   McCain accepted public financing for the general election campaign, and the restrictions that go with it, while criticizing his Democratic opponent for becoming the first major party candidate to opt out of such financing for the general election since the system was implemented in 1976.   The Republican's broad campaign theme focused on his experience and ability to lead, compared to Obama's. 
On August 29, 2008, McCain revealed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his surprise choice for a running mate.  McCain was only the second U.S. major-party presidential nominee (after Walter Mondale, who chose Geraldine Ferraro) to select a woman as his running mate and the first Republican to do so. On September 3, 2008, McCain and Palin became the Republican Party's presidential and vice presidential nominees at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota. McCain surged ahead of Obama in national polls following the convention, as the Palin pick energized core Republican voters who had previously been wary of him.  However, by the campaign's own later admission, the rollout of Palin to the national media went poorly,  and voter reactions to Palin grew increasingly negative, especially among independents and other voters concerned about her qualifications. 
McCain's decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate was criticized New York Times journalist David Brooks said that "he took a disease that was running through the Republican party – anti-intellectualism, disrespect for facts – and he put it right at the centre of the party".  Laura McGann in Vox says that McCain gave the "reality TV politics" and Tea Party movement more political legitimacy, as well as solidifying "the Republican Party's comfort with a candidate who would say absurdities . unleashing a political style and a values system that animated the Tea Party movement and laid the groundwork for a Trump presidency."  Although McCain later expressed regret for not choosing the independent Senator Joe Lieberman (who had previously been Al Gore's running mate in 2000, while still elected as a Democrat) as his VP candidate instead, he consistently defended Palin's performances at his events. 
On September 24, McCain said he was temporarily suspending his campaign activities, called on Obama to join him, and proposed delaying the first of the general election debates with Obama, in order to work on the proposed U.S. financial system bailout before Congress, which was targeted at addressing the subprime mortgage crisis and the financial crisis of 2007–2008.   McCain's intervention helped to give dissatisfied House Republicans an opportunity to propose changes to the plan that was otherwise close to agreement.   After Obama declined McCain's suspension suggestion, McCain went ahead with the debate on September 26.  On October 1, McCain voted in favor of a revised $700 billion rescue plan.  Another debate was held on October 7 like the first one, polls afterward suggested that Obama had won it.  A final presidential debate occurred on October 15.  Down the stretch, McCain was outspent by Obama by a four-to-one margin. 
During and after the final debate, McCain compared Obama's proposed policies to socialism and often invoked "Joe the Plumber" as a symbol of American small business dreams that would be thwarted by an Obama presidency.   He barred using the Jeremiah Wright controversy in ads against Obama,  but the campaign did frequently criticize Obama regarding his purported relationship with Bill Ayers.  His rallies became increasingly vitriolic,  with attendees denigrating Obama and displaying a growing anti-Muslim and anti-African-American sentiment.  During a campaign rally in Minnesota, Gayle Quinnell, a McCain supporter, told him she did not trust Obama because "he's an Arab".  McCain replied, "No ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues."  McCain's response was considered one of the finer moments of the campaign and was still being viewed several years later as a marker for civility in American politics, particularly in light of the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant animus of the Donald Trump presidency.   Meghan McCain said that she cannot "go a day without someone bringing up (that) moment," and noted that at the time "there were a lot of people really trying to get my dad to go (against Obama) with . you're a Muslim, you're not an American aspect of that," but that her father had refused. "I can remember thinking that it was a morally amazing and beautiful moment, but that maybe there would be people in the Republican Party that would be quite angry," she said. 
The election took place on November 4, and Barack Obama was declared the projected winner at about 11:00 pm Eastern Standard Time McCain delivered his concession speech in Phoenix, Arizona about twenty minutes later.  In it, he noted the historic and special significance of Obama being elected the nation's first African American president.  In the end, McCain won 173 electoral votes to Obama's 365  McCain failed to win most of the battleground states and lost some traditionally Republican ones.  McCain gained 46 percent of the nationwide popular vote, compared to Obama's 53 percent. 
Remainder of fourth Senate term
Following his defeat, McCain returned to the Senate amid varying views about what role he might play there.  In mid-November 2008 he met with President-elect Obama, and the two discussed issues they had commonality on.  Around the same time, McCain indicated that he intended to run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2010.  As the inauguration neared, Obama consulted with McCain on a variety of matters, to an extent rarely seen between a president-elect and his defeated rival,  and President Obama's inauguration speech contained an allusion to McCain's theme of finding a purpose greater than oneself. 
Nevertheless, McCain emerged as a leader of the Republican opposition to the Obama economic stimulus package of 2009, saying it incorporated federal policy changes that had nothing to do with near-term job creation and would expand the growing federal budget deficit.  McCain also voted against Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor—saying that while undeniably qualified, "I do not believe that she shares my belief in judicial restraint"  —and by August 2009 was siding more often with his Republican Party on closely divided votes than ever before in his senatorial career.  McCain reasserted that the War in Afghanistan was winnable  and criticized Obama for a slow process in deciding whether to send additional U.S. troops there. 
McCain also harshly criticized Obama for scrapping construction of the U.S. missile defense complex in Poland, declined to enter negotiations over climate change legislation similar to what he had proposed in the past, and strongly opposed the Obama health care plan.   McCain led a successful filibuster of a measure that would allow repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy towards gays.  Factors involved in McCain's new direction included Senate staffers leaving, a renewed concern over national debt levels and the scope of federal government, a possible Republican primary challenge from conservatives in 2010, and McCain's campaign edge being slow to wear off.   As one longtime McCain advisor said, "A lot of people, including me, thought he might be the Republican building bridges to the Obama Administration. But he's been more like the guy blowing up the bridges." 
In early 2010, a primary challenge from radio talk show host and former U.S. Congressman J. D. Hayworth materialized in the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Arizona and drew support from some but not all elements of the Tea Party movement.   With Hayworth using the campaign slogan "The Consistent Conservative", McCain said—despite his own past use of the term on a number of occasions   —"I never considered myself a maverick. I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities."  The primary challenge coincided with McCain reversing or muting his stance on some issues such as the bank bailouts, closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, campaign finance restrictions, and gays in the military. 
When the health care plan, now called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed Congress and became law in March 2010, McCain strongly opposed the landmark legislation not only on its merits but also on the way it had been handled in Congress. As a consequence, he warned that congressional Republicans would not work with Democrats on anything else: "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They have poisoned the well in what they've done and how they've done it."  McCain became a vocal defender of Arizona SB 1070, the April 2010 tough anti-illegal immigration state law that aroused national controversy, saying that the state had been forced to take action given the federal government's inability to control the border.   In the August 24 primary, McCain beat Hayworth by a 56 to 32 percent margin.  McCain proceeded to easily defeat Democratic Tucson city councilman Rodney Glassman in the general election. 
In the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, McCain voted for the compromise Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010,  but against the DREAM Act (which he had once sponsored) and the New START Treaty.  Most prominently, he continued to lead the eventually losing fight against "Don't ask, don't tell" repeal.  In his opposition, he sometimes fell into anger or hostility on the Senate floor, and called its passage "a very sad day" that would compromise the battle effectiveness of the military.  
Fifth Senate term
While control of the House of Representatives went over to the Republicans in the 112th Congress, the Senate stayed Democratic and McCain continued to be the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. As the Arab Spring took center stage, McCain urged that the embattled Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, step down and thought the U.S. should push for democratic reforms in the region despite the associated risks of religious extremists gaining power.  McCain was an especially vocal supporter of the 2011 military intervention in Libya. In April of that year he visited the Anti-Gaddafi forces and National Transitional Council in Benghazi, the highest-ranking American to do so, and said that the rebel forces were "my heroes".  In June, he joined with Senator Kerry in offering a resolution that would have authorized the military intervention, and said: "The administration's disregard for the elected representatives of the American people on this matter has been troubling and counterproductive."   In August, McCain voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011 that resolved the U.S. debt ceiling crisis.  In November, McCain and Senator Carl Levin were leaders in efforts to codify in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 that terrorism suspects, no matter where captured, could be detained by the U.S. military and its tribunal system following objections by civil libertarians, some Democrats, and the White House, McCain and Levin agreed to language making it clear that the bill would not pertain to U.S. citizens.  
In the 2012 Republican Party presidential primaries, McCain endorsed former 2008 rival Mitt Romney and campaigned for him, but compared the contest to a Greek tragedy due to its drawn-out nature with massive super PAC-funded attack ads damaging all the contenders.  He labeled the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision as "uninformed, arrogant, naïve", and, decrying its effects and the future scandals he thought it would bring, said it would become considered the court's "worst decision . in the 21st century".  McCain took the lead in opposing the defense spending sequestrations brought on by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and gained attention for defending State Department aide Huma Abedin against charges brought by a few House Republicans that she had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. 
McCain continued to be one of the most frequently appearing guests on the Sunday morning news talk shows.  He became one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration's handling of the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, saying it was a "debacle" that featured either "a massive cover-up or incompetence that is not acceptable" and that it was worse than the Watergate scandal.  As an outgrowth of this strong opposition, he and a few other senators were successful in blocking the planned nomination of Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as U.S. Secretary of State McCain's friend and colleague John Kerry was nominated instead. 
Regarding the Syrian civil war that had begun in 2011, McCain repeatedly argued for the U.S. intervening militarily in the conflict on the side of the anti-government forces. He staged a visit to rebel forces inside Syria in May 2013, the first senator to do so, and called for arming the Free Syrian Army with heavy weapons and for the establishment of a no-fly zone over the country. Following reports that two of the people he posed for pictures with had been responsible for the kidnapping of eleven Lebanese Shiite pilgrims the year before, McCain disputed one of the identifications and said he had not met directly with the other.  Following the 2013 Ghouta chemical weapons attack, McCain argued again for strong American military action against the government of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and in September 2013 cast a Foreign Relations committee vote in favor of Obama's request to Congress that it authorize a military response.  McCain took the lead in criticizing a growing non-interventionist movement within the Republican Party, exemplified by his March 2013 comment that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Representative Justin Amash were "wacko birds". 
During 2013, McCain was a member of a bi-partisan group of senators, the "Gang of Eight", which announced principles for another try at comprehensive immigration reform.  The resulting Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 passed the Senate by a 68–32 margin, but faced an uncertain future in the House.  In July 2013, McCain was at the forefront of an agreement among senators to drop filibusters against Obama administration executive nominees without Democrats resorting to the "nuclear option" that would disallow such filibusters altogether.   However, the option would be imposed later in the year anyway, to the senator's displeasure.  These developments and some other negotiations showed that McCain now had improved relations with the Obama administration, including the president himself, as well as with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and that he had become the leader of a power center in the Senate for cutting deals in an otherwise bitterly partisan environment.    They also led some observers to conclude that the "maverick" McCain had returned.  
McCain was publicly skeptical about the Republican strategy that precipitated the U.S. federal government shutdown of 2013 and U.S. debt-ceiling crisis of 2013 in order to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act in October 2013 he voted in favor of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014, which resolved them and said, "Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable."  Similarly, he was one of nine Republican senators who voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 at the end of the year.  By early 2014, McCain's apostasies were enough that the Arizona Republican Party formally censured him for having what they saw as a liberal record that had been "disastrous and harmful".  McCain remained stridently opposed to many aspects of Obama's foreign policy, however, and in June 2014, following major gains by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive, decried what he saw as a U.S. failure to protect its past gains in Iraq and called on the president's entire national security team to resign. McCain said, "Could all this have been avoided? . The answer is absolutely yes. If I sound angry it's because I am angry." 
McCain was a supporter of the Euromaidan protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his government, and appeared in Independence Square in Kyiv in December 2013.  Following the overthrow of Yanukovych and subsequent 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine, McCain became a vocal supporter of providing arms to Ukrainian military forces, saying the sanctions imposed against Russia were not enough.  In 2014, McCain led the opposition to the appointments of Colleen Bell, Noah Mamet, and George Tsunis to the ambassadorships in Hungary, Argentina, and Norway, respectively, arguing they were unqualified appointees being rewarded for their political fundraising.  Unlike many Republicans, McCain supported the release and contents of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture in December 2014, saying "The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless."  He added that the CIA's practices following the September 11 attacks had "stained our national honor" while doing "much harm and little practical good" and that "Our enemies act without conscience. We must not."  He opposed the Obama administration's December 2014 decision to normalize relations with Cuba. 
The 114th United States Congress assembled in January 2015 with Republicans in control of the Senate, and McCain achieved one of his longtime goals when he became chairman of the Armed Services Committee.  In this position, he led the writing of proposed Senate legislation that sought to modify parts of the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 in order to return responsibility for major weapons systems acquisition back to the individual armed services and their secretaries and away from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.  As chair, McCain tried to maintain a bipartisan approach and forged a good relationship with ranking member Jack Reed.  In April 2015, McCain announced that he would run for a sixth term in Arizona's 2016 Senate election.  While there was still conservative and Tea Party anger at him, it was unclear if they would mount an effective primary challenge against him.  During 2015, McCain strongly opposed the Obama administration's proposed comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program (later finalized as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)), saying that Secretary of State Kerry was "delusional" and "giv[ing] away the store" in negotiations with Iran.  McCain supported the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh,  saying: "I'm sure civilians die in war. Not nearly as many as the Houthis have executed." 
McCain accused President Obama of being "directly responsible" for the Orlando nightclub shooting "because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama's failures."  
During the 2016 Republican primaries, McCain said he would support the Republican nominee even if it was Donald Trump, but following Mitt Romney's 2016 anti-Trump speech, McCain endorsed the sentiments expressed in that speech, saying he had serious concerns about Trump's "uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues".  Relations between the two had been fraught since early in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, when McCain referred to a room full of Trump supporters as "crazies", and the real estate mogul then said of McCain: "He insulted me, and he insulted everyone in that room . He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured . perhaps he was a war hero, but right now he's said a lot of very bad things about a lot of people."   McCain also vocally opposed a federal loan guarantee for a development project Trump was contemplating on the West Side of Manhattan in 1996.  Following Trump becoming the presumptive nominee of the party on May 3, McCain said that Republican voters had spoken and he would support Trump. 
McCain himself faced a primary challenge from Kelli Ward, a fervent Trump supporter, and then was expected to face a potentially strong challenge from Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in the general election.  The senator privately expressed worry over the effect that Trump's unpopularity among Hispanic voters might have on his own chances but also was concerned with more conservative pro-Trump voters he thus kept his endorsement of Trump in place but tried to speak of him as little as possible given their disagreements.    However McCain defeated Ward in the primary by a double-digit percentage point margin and gained a similar lead over Kirkpatrick in general election polls, and when the Donald Trump Access Hollywood controversy broke, he felt secure enough to on October 8 withdraw his endorsement of Trump.  McCain stated that Trump's "demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults" made it "impossible to continue to offer even conditional support" and added that he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, but would instead "write in the name of some good conservative Republican who is qualified to be president."   McCain, at 80 years of age, went on to defeat Kirkpatrick, securing a sixth term as United States Senator from Arizona. 
In November 2016, McCain learned of the existence of a dossier regarding the Trump presidential campaign's links to Russia compiled by Christopher Steele. McCain sent a representative to gather more information, who obtained a copy of the dossier.  In December 2016, McCain passed on the dossier to FBI Director James Comey in a 1-on-1 meeting. McCain later wrote that he felt the dossier's "allegations were disturbing" but unverifiable by himself, so he let the FBI investigate. 
On December 31, 2016, in Tbilisi, Georgia, McCain stated that the United States should strengthen its sanctions against Russia.  One year later, on December 23, 2017, the State Department announced that the United States would provide Ukraine with "enhanced defensive capabilities". 
Sixth and final Senate term
McCain chaired the January 5, 2017, hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee where Republican and Democratic senators and intelligence officers, including James R. Clapper Jr., the Director of National Intelligence, Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command presented a "united front" that "forcefully reaffirmed the conclusion that the Russian government used hacking and leaks to try to influence the presidential election." 
In June 2017, McCain voted to support President Trump's controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia.  
Repeal and replacement of Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was a centerpiece of McCain's 2016 re-election campaign,  and in July 2017, he said, "Have no doubt: Congress must replace Obamacare, which has hit Arizonans with some of the highest premium increases in the nation and left 14 of Arizona's 15 counties with only one provider option on the exchanges this year." He added that he supports affordable and quality health care, but objected that the pending Senate bill did not do enough to shield the Medicaid system in Arizona. 
In response to the death of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died of organ failure while in government custody, McCain said that "this is only the latest example of Communist China's assault on human rights, democracy, and freedom." 
In September 2017, as the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar became ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority, McCain announced moves to scrap planned future military cooperation with Myanmar. 
In October 2017, McCain praised President Trump's decision to decertify Iran's compliance with the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) while not yet withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, saying that the Obama-era policy failed "to meet the multifaceted threat Iran poses. The goals President Trump presented in his speech today are a welcomed long overdue change." 
Brain tumor diagnosis and surgery
On July 14, 2017, McCain underwent a minimally invasive craniotomy at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, in order to remove a blood clot above his left eye. His absence prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to delay a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act.  Five days later, Mayo Clinic doctors announced that the laboratory results from the surgery confirmed the presence of a glioblastoma, which is a very aggressive cancerous brain tumor.  Standard treatment options for this tumor include chemotherapy and radiation, although even with treatment, average survival time is approximately 14 months.  McCain was a survivor of previous cancers, including melanoma.  
President Donald Trump publicly wished Senator McCain well,  as did many others, including former President Obama.  On July 19, McCain's senatorial office issued a statement that he "appreciates the outpouring of support he has received over the last few days. He is in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona. He is grateful to the doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic for their outstanding care, and is confident that any future treatment will be effective." On July 24, McCain announced via Twitter that he would return to the United States Senate the following day. 
Return to the Senate
McCain returned to the Senate on July 25, less than two weeks after brain surgery. He cast a deciding vote allowing the Senate to begin consideration of bills to replace the Affordable Care Act. Along with that vote, he delivered a speech criticizing the party-line voting process used by the Republicans, as well as by the Democrats in passing the Affordable Care Act to begin with, and McCain also urged a "return to regular order" utilizing the usual committee hearings and deliberations.    On July 28, he cast the decisive vote against the Republicans' final proposal that month, the so-called "skinny repeal" option, which failed 49–51.  McCain supported the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
McCain did not vote in the Senate after December 2017, remaining instead in Arizona to undergo cancer treatment. On April 15, 2018, he underwent surgery for an infection relating to diverticulitis and the following day was reported to be in stable condition. 
- Committee on Armed Services (Chair)
- as chair of the full committee may serve as an ex-officio member of any subcommittee
On August 24, 2018, five days before his 82nd birthday, McCain's family announced that he would no longer receive treatment for his cancer.  He died the following day at 4:28 p.m. MST (23:28 UTC), with his wife and family beside him, at his home in Cornville, Arizona.  
McCain lay in state in the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on August 29, which would have been his 82nd birthday. This was followed by a service at North Phoenix Baptist Church on August 30. His remains were then moved to Washington, D.C. to lie in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol  on August 31, which was followed by a service at the Washington National Cathedral on September 1. He was a "lifelong Episcopalian" who attended, but did not join, a Southern Baptist church for at least 17 years memorial services were scheduled in both denominations.   Prior to his death, McCain requested that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama deliver eulogies at his funeral, and asked that both President Donald Trump and former Alaska Governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin not attend any of the services.   McCain himself planned the funeral arrangements and selected his pallbearers for the service in Washington the pallbearers included former Vice President Joe Biden, former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, actor Warren Beatty, and Russian dissident Vladimir Vladimirovich Kara-Murza. 
Dignitaries who gave eulogies at the Memorial Service in Washington National Cathedral included Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Joe Lieberman, and his daughter Meghan McCain. The New Yorker described the service as the biggest meeting of anti-Trump figures during his presidency. 
Many American political figures paid tribute at the funeral. Those who attended included former United States Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Carter First Ladies Michelle, Laura, Hillary, Rosalyn and former Vice Presidents Biden, Cheney, Gore, and Quayle. Former President George H.W. Bush (who died 3 months and 5 days after McCain) was too ill to attend the service, and President Trump was not invited. Many figures from political life, both current and former and from both political parties, attended. Figures included John F. Kelly, Jim Mattis, Bob Dole, Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake, Elizabeth Warren, and Jon Huntsman. President Trump's daughter and son-in-law Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attended to the displeasure of Meghan McCain.  Journalists Carl Bernstein, Tom Brokaw, and Charlie Rose, as well as actors Warren Beatty and Annette Bening and comedians Jay Leno and Joy Behar also attended the funeral. 
On September 2, the funeral cortege traveled from Washington, D.C. through Annapolis, Maryland, where the streets were lined with crowds of onlookers, to the Naval Academy.  A private service was held at the Naval Academy Chapel, attended by the brigade of midshipmen and McCain's classmates. After the chapel service, McCain was buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery, next to his Naval Academy classmate and lifelong friend Admiral Charles R. Larson. 
Many celebrities paid tribute to the late Senator on Twitter. Those included, Tom Hanks who tweeted "Duty. Honor. Country. Our nation thanks you, John McCain. There has been no finer son of America". Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Reese Witherspoon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Khloe Kardashian also tweeted out remembrances of the late Senator. 
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was empowered to appoint McCain's interim replacement until a special election is held in 2020 to determine who is to serve out the remainder of McCain's term, which ends in January 2023 and thus appointed the then former Arizona U.S. Senator Jon Kyl to fill the vacancy.   Under Arizona law, the appointed replacement must be of the same party as McCain, a Republican.  Newspaper speculation about potential appointees has included McCain's widow Cindy, former Senator Jon Kyl, and former Representatives Matt Salmon and John Shadegg.   Ducey said that he would not make a formal appointment until after McCain's final funeral and burial on September 4, two days after McCain was buried, Ducey appointed Kyl to fill McCain's seat.  
McCain received many tributes and condolences, including from Congressional colleagues, all living former presidents – Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama – and future president Joe Biden, as well as Vice President Mike Pence and President Richard Nixon's daughters Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower.     French President Emmanuel Macron, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had just taken office the previous day, and former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and foreign minister Heiko Maas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the 14th Dalai Lama, and former Vietnamese ambassador to Washington Nguyễn Quốc Cường also sent condolences.      
Colonel Trần Trọng Duyệt, who ran the Hỏa Lò Prison when McCain was held there, remarked, "At that time I liked him personally for his toughness and strong stance. Later on, when he became a US Senator, he and Senator John Kerry greatly contributed to promote Vietnam-US relations so I was very fond of him. When I learnt about his death early this morning, I feel very sad. I would like to send condolences to his family."  In a TV interview, Senator Lindsey Graham said McCain's last words to him were "I love you, I have not been cheated."  His daughter, Meghan McCain, shared her grief, stating that she was present at the moment he died. 
At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, McCain was recognized in the "In Memoriam" segment, right before Aretha Franklin. Many fans questioned the inclusion of McCain in the segment because he wasn't known for television. He had, however, appeared in various television projects, including hosting and several cameo appearances on Saturday Night Live. He also made appearances on Parks and Recreation and 24. 
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would introduce a resolution to rename the Russell Senate Office Building after McCain.  A quarter peal of Grandsire Caters in memory of McCain was rung by the bellringers of Washington National Cathedral the day following his death.  Another memorial quarter peal was rung on September 6 on the Bells of Congress at the Old Post Office in Washington. 
Reaction by Donald Trump
President Trump reportedly rejected the White House's plans to release a statement praising McCain's life, and he initially said nothing about McCain himself in a tweet that extended condolences to McCain's family.  In addition, the flag at the White House, which had been lowered to half-staff the day of McCain's death (August 25), was raised back to full-staff at 12:01 a.m. on August 27.  Trump reportedly felt that media coverage of McCain's death was excessive given that McCain was never president.  In contrast with the White House's initial decision, many governors, both Democratic and Republican, had ordered flags in their states to fly at half-staff until McCain's interment, and Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer requested support from the Defense Department so that flags would be flown at half-staff on all government buildings.   Following public backlash from the American Legion and AMVETS, Trump relented and ordered the White House flag back to half-staff later in the day on August 27. Trump belatedly issued a statement praising McCain's service to the country, and he signed a proclamation ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until McCain's interment at the Naval Academy Cemetery.  
In March 2019—seven months after McCain's death—Trump issued a series of public statements that criticized McCain at least four times in five days.  Trump also claimed that he approved McCain's funeral but was not thanked for it. However, the Washington National Cathedral responded that no governmental or presidential approval was needed for McCain's funeral because he was not a former president. McCain's lying in state was approved by the Senate, while Trump did approve the transport for McCain's body.    Trump also described himself as having "got the job done" on the Veterans Choice Act while claiming McCain failed on the same issue. However, McCain was actually one of the two main authors of the bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2014. Trump had signed the VA MISSION Act of 2018 (S. 2372), an expansion of that law worked on by McCain that includes McCain's name in its full title. Trump also claimed that McCain graduated "last in his class", though McCain was actually fifth from last.  
Various advocacy groups have given McCain scores or grades as to how well his votes align with the positions of each group.  CrowdPac, which rates politicians based on donations made and received, gave Senator McCain a score of 4.3C with 10C being the most conservative and 10L being the most liberal. 
The non-partisan National Journal rates a Senator's votes by what percentage of the Senate voted more liberally than him or her, and what percentage more conservatively, in three policy areas: economic, social, and foreign. For 2005–2006 (as reported in the 2008 Almanac of American Politics), McCain's average ratings were as follows: economic policy: 59 percent conservative and 41 percent liberal social policy: 54 percent conservative and 38 percent liberal and foreign policy: 56 percent conservative and 43 percent liberal.  In 2012, the National Journal gave McCain a composite score of 73 percent conservative and 27 percent liberal,  while in 2013 he received a composite score of 60 percent conservative and 40 percent liberal. 
Columnists such as Robert Robb and Matthew Continetti used a formulation devised by William F. Buckley Jr. to describe McCain as "conservative" but not "a conservative", meaning that while McCain usually tended towards conservative positions, he was not "anchored by the philosophical tenets of modern American conservatism".   Following his 2008 presidential election loss, McCain began adopting more orthodox conservative views the magazine National Journal rated McCain along with seven of his colleagues as the "most conservative" Senators for 2010  and he achieved his first 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union for that year.  During Barack Obama's presidency, McCain was one of the top five Republicans most likely to vote with Obama's position on significant votes McCain voted with Obama's position on such votes more than half the time in 2013 and was "censured by the Arizona Republican party for a so-called 'liberal' voting record". 
From the late 1990s until 2008, McCain was a board member of Project Vote Smart which was set up by Richard Kimball, his 1986 Senate opponent.  The project provides non-partisan information about the political positions of McCain  and other candidates for political office. Additionally, McCain used his Senate website to describe his political positions. 
In his 2008 speech to the CPAC McCain stated that he believed in"small government fiscal discipline low taxes a strong defense, judges who enforce, and not make, our laws the social values that are the true source of our strength and, generally, the steadfast defense of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which I have defended my entire career as God-given to the born and unborn."
In his 2018 memoir The Restless Wave, McCain described his views as such: "Last but not least, I was [at the time of entering Congress] a Republican, a Reagan Republican. Still am. Not a Tea Party Republican. Not a Breitbart Republican. Not a talk radio or Fox News Republican. Not an isolationist, protectionist, immigrant-bashing, scapegoating, get-nothing-useful-done Republican. Not, as I am often dismissed by self-declared 'real' conservatives, a RINO, Republican in Name Only. I'm a Reagan Republican, a proponent of lower taxes, less government, free markets, free trade, defense readiness, and democratic internationalism."
McCain's personal character was a dominant feature of his public image.  This image includes the military service of both himself and his family,  the circumstances and tensions surrounding the end of his first marriage and beginning of second,  his maverick political persona,  his temper,  his admitted problem of occasional ill-considered remarks,  and his close ties to his children from both his marriages. 
McCain's political appeal was more nonpartisan and less ideological compared to many other national politicians.  His stature and reputation stemmed partly from his service in the Vietnam War.  He also carried physical vestiges of his war wounds, as well as his melanoma surgery.  When campaigning, he quipped: "I am older than dirt and have more scars than Frankenstein." 
Writers often extolled McCain for his courage not just in war but in politics, and wrote sympathetically about him.     McCain's shift of political stances and attitudes during and especially after the 2008 presidential campaign, including his self-repudiation of the maverick label, left many writers expressing sadness and wondering what had happened to the McCain they thought they had known.     By 2013, some aspects of the older McCain had returned, and his image became that of a kaleidoscope of contradictory tendencies, including as a Republican In Name Only or a "traitor" to his party  and, as one writer listed, "the maverick, the former maverick, the curmudgeon, the bridge builder, the war hero bent on transcending the call of self-interest to serve a cause greater than himself, the sore loser, old bull, last lion, loose cannon, happy warrior, elder statesman, lion in winter." 
In his own estimation, McCain was straightforward and direct, but impatient.  His other traits included a penchant for lucky charms,  a fondness for hiking,  and a sense of humor that sometimes backfired spectacularly, as when he made a joke in 1998 about the Clintons that was widely deemed not fit to print in newspapers: "Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? – Because Janet Reno is her father."   McCain subsequently apologized profusely,  and the Clinton White House accepted his apology.  McCain did not shy away from addressing his shortcomings, and he apologized for them.   He was known for sometimes being prickly  and hot-tempered  with Senate colleagues, but his relations with his own Senate staff were more cordial, and inspired loyalty towards him.   He formed a strong bond with two senators, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, over hawkish foreign policy and overseas travel, and they became dubbed the "Three Amigos". 
McCain acknowledged having said intemperate things in years past,  though he also said that many stories have been exaggerated.  One psychoanalytic comparison suggested that McCain was not the first presidential candidate to have a temper,  and cultural critic Julia Keller argued that voters want leaders who are passionate, engaged, fiery, and feisty.  McCain employed both profanity  and shouting on occasion, although such incidents became less frequent over the years.   Lieberman made this observation: "It is not the kind of anger that is a loss of control. He is a very controlled person."  Senator Thad Cochran, who knew McCain for decades and had battled him over earmarks,   expressed concern about a McCain presidency: "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."  Yet Cochran supported McCain for president when it was clear he would win the nomination.  The Chicago Tribune editorial board called McCain a patriot, who although sometimes wrong was fearless, and that he deserves to be thought of among the few US senators in history, whose names are more recognizable than some presidents. 
All McCain's family members were on good terms with him,  and he defended them against some of the negative consequences of his high-profile political lifestyle.   His family's military tradition extends to the latest generation: son John Sidney IV ("Jack") graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2009, becoming the fourth generation John S. McCain to do so, and is a helicopter pilot son James served two tours with the Marines in the Iraq War and son Doug flew jets in the navy.    His daughter Meghan became a blogging and Twittering presence in the debate about the future of the Republican Party following the 2008 elections, and showed some of his maverick tendencies.   In 2017 Meghan joined the cast of the popular ABC talk show The View as a co-host.  Senator McCain himself also appeared as a guest on the program. 
McCain appeared in several television shows and films while he was a sitting senator. He made uncredited cameo appearances in Wedding Crashers and 24 and had two uncredited cameos in Parks and Recreation. McCain also hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002 and appeared in two episodes in 2008. 
In addition to his military honors and decorations, McCain was granted a number of civilian awards and honors.
In 1997, Time magazine named McCain as one of the "25 Most Influential People in America".  In 1999, McCain shared the Profile in Courage Award with Senator Russ Feingold for their work towards campaign finance reform.  The following year, the same pair shared the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government.  In 2005, The Eisenhower Institute awarded McCain the Eisenhower Leadership Prize.  The prize recognizes individuals whose lifetime accomplishments reflect Dwight D. Eisenhower's legacy of integrity and leadership. In 2006, the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award was bestowed upon McCain by the National Park Trust.  The same year, McCain was awarded the Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, in honor of Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson.  In 2007, the World Leadership Forum presented McCain with the Policymaker of the Year Award it is given internationally to someone who has "created, inspired or strongly influenced important policy or legislation".  In 2010, President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia awarded McCain the Order of National Hero, an award never previously given to a non-Georgian.  In 2015, the Kyiv Patriarchate awarded McCain its own version of the Order of St. Vladimir.  In 2016, Allegheny College awarded McCain, along with Vice President Joe Biden, its Prize for Civility in Public Life.  In August 2016, Petro Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine, awarded McCain with the highest award for foreigners, the Order of Liberty.  In 2017, Hashim Thaçi, the President of Kosovo, awarded McCain the "Urdhër i Lirisë" (Order of Freedom) medal for his contribution to the freedom and independence of Kosovo, and its partnership with the U.S.  McCain also received the Liberty Medal from the National Constitution Center in 2017.  In the spring of 2018 McCain was decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Emperor for 'strengthening bilateral relations and promoting friendship between Japan and the United States'. 
McCain received several honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States and internationally. These include ones from Colgate University (LL.D 2000),  The Citadel (DPA 2002),  Wake Forest University (LL.D May 20, 2002),   the University of Southern California (DHL May 2004),  Northwestern University (LL.D June 17, 2005),   Liberty University (2006),  The New School (2006),  and the Royal Military College of Canada (D.MSc June 27, 2013).    He was also made an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society at Trinity College Dublin in 2005. 
On July 11, 2018, USS John S. McCain, originally named in honor of the Senator's father and grandfather, was rededicated in the Senator's name also.  
On November 29, 2017, the Phoenix City Council unanimously voted to name Terminal 3 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Honor of the Senator which opened on January 7, 2019 after his death in August 2018. 
On April 4, 2019, the Kyiv City Council renamed a street that had previously been named after the NKVD agent Ivan Kudria to "John McCain Street".   
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Special thanks to The Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University Libraries.
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