The senior Republican Senator from Arizona and former Republican nominee for president in the 2008 election, John Sidney McCain III, died Sunday after battling brain cancer for more than a year.
McCain was surrounded by his wife Cindy and his family in Arizona during his final hours.
“He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth,” said Meghan McCain, one of the late senator’s seven children.
During the Vietnam War, McCain’s plane was shot down over Hanoi while on a bombing mission in 1967. Both his arms and a leg were broken in the incident. He was held by the North Vietnamese at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner of war camp until 1973. More than two of those years were spent in solitary confinement.
When offered a chance at early release, McCain refused to be repatriated before other American detainees who had been held longer than he, out of respect for the POW code of conduct. His injuries sustained during the war left him with lifelong disabilities.
McCain returned from the Navy in 1981, moving to Arizona. Soon after entering politics in 1982, McCain was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served two terms before setting his sights on the US Senate, which he joined in 1987 and to which he won easy re-election five times (most recently in 2016).
McCain ran for president for the first time in 2000 with an insurgent campaign against then Texas governor George W. Bush for the Republican nomination. He ended his candidacy, however, after suffering two major defeats in the primaries.
In 2008 he made a second attempt at the White House, this time as his party’s nominee. He ultimately lost to Barack Obama, then a junior Democratic senator from Illinois.
“We are all in his debt,” Obama said in tribute to McCain Sunday.
“We shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher – the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed.”
Over the course of his career, McCain earned a reputation as a maverick who put his country before politics.
A powerful Republican voice, McCain was also known as a politician who was unafraid to vote on principle instead of along party lines. In 2017, shortly after his brain cancer diagnosis, McCain returned to Washington, DC, where he cast a crucial vote against a Republican-led effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act – one of Obama’s signature policy achievements.
The senior senator from Arizona was also a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, warning against the president’s apparent admiration for his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and other autocratic leaders in his recent book, “The Restless Wave”.
Following Trump’s meeting with Putin in July – during which he accepted the Russian president’s denial of interference in the 2016 US presidential election – McCain issued a searing statement in which he described the incident as “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory”.
Trump, who in the past has mocked McCain’s war record, said he sent his “deepest sympathies and respect”.
McCain is survived by his wife, Cindy, and his seven children: Doug, Andy and Sidney from his marriage to Carol McCain as well as Meghan, Jack, Jimmy and Bridget from his second marriage. McCain also leaves behind five grandchildren.
Culled from France 24