McCAIN, SENATOR AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, DIES AT 81
McCain, who has died at the age of 81, was a naval bomber pilot,
prisoner of war, conservative maverick, giant of the Senate,
twice-defeated presidential candidate and an abrasive American hero
with a twinkle in his eye.
The Arizonan warrior politician, who survived plane crashes, several
bouts of skin cancer and brushes with political oblivion, often
seemed to be perpetually waging a race against time and his own
mortality while striving to ensure that his five-and-a-half years as
a Vietnam prisoner of war did not stand as the defining experience
of his life.
He spent his last few months out of the public eye in his adopted
home state of Arizona, reflecting on the meaning of his life and
accepting visits from a stream of friends and old political
"It's been quite a ride. I've known great passions, seen amazing
wonders, fought in a war, and helped make peace," McCain wrote.
"I've lived very well and I've been deprived of all comforts. I've
been as lonely as a person can be and I've enjoyed the company of
heroes. I've suffered the deepest despair and experienced the
"I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the
history of my times."
McCain had not been in Washington since December, leaving a vacuum
in the corridors of the Senate and the television news studios he
roamed for decades.
In recent months, he was not completely quiet, however, blasting
President Donald Trump in a series of tweets and statements that
showed that while he was ailing he had lost none of his appetite for
the political fight.
The Arizona Senator repeatedly made clear that he saw Trump and his
America First ideology as a departure from the values and traditions
of global leadership that he saw epitomized in the United States.
McCain had been planning his funeral services over the last year and
his family made clear that Trump is not invited, a position that has
not changed, two family friends said Saturday. Former rivals and
Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush were asked to give
eulogies, people close to both former presidents and a source close
to the senator told CNN earlier this year.
After McCain leaves Arizona, he will lie in state in the US Capitol
this week, a Republican source with knowledge of the plans confirmed
to CNN. A service will also be held at the National Cathedral,
followed by a private service in Annapolis, Maryland, the source
McCain's two losing presidential campaigns meant he fell short of
the ultimate political prize, one his story once seemed to promise
after he came home from Vietnam and caught the political bug. In the
end, he became a scourge of presidents rather than President
At the time of his death, he was largely an anomaly in his own party
-- as one of the few Republicans willing to criticize Trump and a
believer in the idealized "shining city on a hill" brand of
conservatism exemplified by his hero Ronald Reagan that has been
dislodged by the nativist and polarizing instincts of the current
President. He was also a throwback to an earlier era when political
leaders, without betraying their own ideology, were willing on
occasion to cross partisan lines.
In a Washington career that spanned 40 years, first as a Navy Senate
liaison, then as a member of the House and finally as the occupant
of the Senate seat he took over from Barry Goldwater, McCain was a
conservative and a foreign policy hawk. But he was not always a
reliable Republican vote, and sometimes in a career that stretched
into a sixth Senate term, he confounded party leaders with his
maverick stands. He defied party orthodoxy to embrace campaign
finance reform, and excoriated President George W. Bush's defense
secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, for not taking enough troops to Iraq.
After Obama ended McCain's second White House race in 2008, the
senator blasted the new President's troop withdrawals from Iraq and
Afghanistan, causing critics to carp that he had not yet reconciled
the bitterness he felt in defeat. McCain had supported the invasion
of Iraq carried out by the Bush administration in 2003, but admitted
in his memoir "The Restless Wave" that the rationale, that Saddam
Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was wrong.
"The war, with its cost in lives and treasure and security, can't be
judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I
have to accept my share of the blame for it," he wrote.
More recently, as death approached, he became a strident critic of
Trump, who had once said he didn't consider the Arizona senator a
war hero because he had been captured.
McCain questioned why Trump was solicitous of Vladimir Putin, whom
he regarded as an unreformed KGB apparatchik.
In one of his final public acts, he blasted Trump's cozy summit with
the Russian President in July, blasting it as "one of the most
disgraceful performances by an American president in memory." S.
McCain National Defense Authorization Act, he did not even mention
the Arizona senator.
mONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2008
McCain, a true American hero
MAJOR GENERAL ERNEIDO OLIVA ENDORSES JOHN MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT
U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today announced
that Major General Erneido Oliva, USAR (Ret.), veteran of the Bay of
Pigs invasion and former Deputy Commanding General of the
Washington, D.C. National Guard, joined over 100 former generals and
flag officers to endorse John McCain for President of the United
"John McCain is a true American hero whose record and experience
defending this great nation are unmatched," said Gen. Oliva. "John
McCain knows what it is to experience the cruelties of tyrannical
regimes, and understands the need to stand firm in the face of evil.
His leadership is impressive, and I am proud to stand with him."
John McCain thanked Gen. Oliva for his support, stating, "I am
deeply honored to have earned the support of a patriot such as
General Oliva. His leadership and courage under fire are
inspirational, and I am grateful for his support."
General Oliva left his native country Cuba in 1960 to join the
anti-Castro forces being organized in Guatemala. He was promoted to
the position of Deputy Commander of Assault Brigade 2506, the Cuban
exile brigade that landed at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961.
Released with his surviving comrades in an agreement with the U.S.
government, he was commissioned into the U.S. armed forces, and has
been a tireless advocate for the cause of a free Cuba. He was
promoted to general of the line, U.S.A. Brigadier General, in 1984
and retired as a Major General of the District of Columbia National
Guard in 1993.