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Sen. John McCain dead at 81



John McCain
John McCain.
Lott/Getty Images

  • Republican Sen. John McCain died Saturday at the age of
  • McCain suffered from an aggressive form of brain

Republican Sen. John McCain, an internationally renowned Vietnam
War hero who served for 30 years in the Senate representing
Arizona, died Saturday due to complications stemming from brain

McCain, 81, was a part of many of the past three decades’ most
significant political moments. He was the 2008 Republican
presidential nominee in a contest he lost to President Barack
Obama. He also sought the presidency in 2000, mounting a primary
campaign against President George W. Bush.

A graduate of the Naval Academy, the Arizona Republican followed
both his father and grandfather, who were four-star admirals,
into the US Navy, where he carried out airstrike missions.

During a 1967 bombing run over Hanoi, McCain’s plane was shot
down, nearly killing him. He was captured by North Vietnamese
forces and spent six years as a prisoner of war, suffering brutal
beatings at the hands of his captors, which left him with
lifelong physical ailments.

He quickly lost 50 pounds and saw his hair turn white. His
captors did not treat his injuries from the plane crash.

john mccain ss
McCain is pulled out of a Hanoi lake by a mix of North Vietnamese
Army (NVA) and Vietnamese citizens in October, 1967. McCain was
shot down by a Surface-to-Air Missile and had broken both arms
and his right knee upon ejection, losing consciousness until he
hit the water.


Because his father was named commander of US forces in Vietnam
that same year, the North Vietnamese offered to release McCain
early. He refused unless every prisoner of war taken before him
was also released. He was soon placed in solitary confinement,
where he would remain for the next two years. He was not released
until March of 1973.

Upon returning to the US, McCain was awarded a number of military
medals, including two Purple Hearts. He soon set his sights on
politics and ran for an Arizona congressional seat in 1982,
winning a tough primary and subsequently the general election.

In 1986, he ran for the Senate seat vacated by longtime
Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, who was the Republican
presidential nominee in 1964. He won that election as well, and
he has been reelected to the Senate for five additional terms —
most recently in 2016.

Early in his Senate career, McCain became embroiled in the
“Keating Five” scandal. McCain was one of five senators who
received campaign contributions from Charles Keating Jr. and was
later asked by Keating to prevent the government from seizing his
Lincoln Savings and Loan Association.

McCain met twice with regulators to discuss the government
investigation. He later returned the donations and admitted the
appearance of it was wrong. The episode led McCain to become a
leader on campaign finance reform, which included the passage of
the McCain-Feingold Act.

During his 2000 campaign for president, the press became
enthralled with the candidate who won over a reputation as a
“maverick,” rebuffing his party’s conservative orthodoxy at the
time. He famously traveled on a bus called the “Straight Talk
Express” during his 2000 bid.

john mccain ss
Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) greets
his running mate, vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah
Palin, at his election night rally in Phoenix November 4,


In 2008, McCain fared far better. He won the Republican
presidential nomination but ultimately was defeated by Obama in a
year in which he faced defending an unpopular war in Iraq and a
faltering economy under the Bush administration. McCain selected
then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, a move some
have criticized as having opened the floodgates for the
Republican Party to be infiltrated by some far-right candidates
who went on to be elected

McCain then returned to the Senate, his stature even more
prominent, leading on national security and military issues.

He was diagnosed with brain cancer early in his sixth term. He
battled through it, returning to Congress this past summer. In
perhaps his last signature political moment, McCain cast a
dramatic vote against his party to
stop the repeal of Obamacare
, coming to the floor in the
middle of the vote before pausing and pointing his right thumb
down. The moment highlighted a contentious relationship between
the senator and President Donald Trump.

The type of brain tumor with which he was afflicted,
glioblastoma, is particularly aggressive and difficult to treat.
He had been receiving chemotherapy, but his family announced in
August that he would no longer seek medical treatment.

McCain is survived by his seven children and his second wife,
Cindy, whom he married in 1980 following a 15-year marriage to
Carol Shepp.

Most famous among his children is Meghan, who is a prominent
conservative pundit and cohost of ABC’s “The View.” During a
December episode, former Vice President
Joe Biden consoled her and said that if “anybody” could overcome
that cancer, it was her father.

“Your dad is one of my best friends,” he said.

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