Six-term Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain died Saturday at his Arizona ranch with his family after a battle with brain cancer. He was 81 years old.
“My heart is broken. I’m so lucky to have had the adventure of loving this amazing man for 38 years,” McCain’s wife, Cindy, said. tweeted Saturday. “He passed as he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved the most.”
His daughter, Meghan McCain, partly written in a lengthy statement: “With the passing of my father comes great grief and sorrow for me, for my mother, for my brothers and for my sisters. It was a great fire that burned brightly, and we lived in its light and warmth for so long.
McCain had recently decided to stop medical treatment. Although he “exceeded survival expectations,” the family said in a statement about the decision on Friday that “the progression of the disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict.”
The senator had been absent from the Capitol since December. Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is expected to name a replacement who would serve the remainder of McCain’s term until the 2020 election.
According to a post on McCain’s official website, a national memorial service will be held at the National Cathedral in Washington on Saturday, September 1 at 10 a.m. ET. While the event is private, a live stream will be available. The day before, he will rest in state at the United States Capitol.
McCain will also be in state at the Arizona State Capitol on Wednesday with a memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church the following day.
The decorated Vietnam War veteran will be buried on a grassy hill at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, next to lifelong friend Chuck Larson, McCain’s admiral and lifelong ally.
The son and grandson of Navy admirals, McCain was a former Navy pilot and was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years. He was elected to Congress in the early 1980s and elected to the Senate in 1986, replacing retired Barry Goldwater. McCain gained a reputation as a legislator who was willing to stand by his convictions rather than follow party leaders.
He was a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump, particularly for his vote against a Republican replacement for “Obamacare”, the health care law approved under President Barack Obama. Trump signed a military policy bill this month bearing McCain’s name, but in a sign of their strained relationship, the president made no mention of McCain’s name during a signing ceremony.
On Friday, McCain’s wife, Cindy, took to Twitter to say, “I love my husband with all my heart. God bless everyone who has taken care of my husband through this journey.
McCain underwent surgery in July 2017 to remove a blood clot in his brain after being diagnosed with an aggressive tumor called glioblastoma. It’s the same type of tumor that killed Senator Edward M. Kennedy at age 77 in 2009.
However, McCain quickly bounced back, returning to Washington and entering the Senate in late July to a standing ovation from his colleagues. In a dramatic turn, he then voted against the Republican health care bill, drawing the ire of Trump, who frequently cites McCain’s vote at campaign events.
McCain’s condition worsened last fall; he had been in Arizona since December.
McCain was a long-term survivor of melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. Doctors classified her brain cancer as a “primary tumour”, meaning it was unrelated to her previous malignancies.
McCain ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, then won it in 2008 before losing the general election to Obama.
He returned to the Senate, determined not to be defined by a failed presidential campaign in which his reputation as a maverick had faded.
When Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015, McCain, the scion of a decorated military family, embraced his newfound influence as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, pushing for an aggressive US military intervention in the foreigner and eager to help “defeat the forces of radical Islam that wants to destroy America.
When asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain simply replied, “That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation.”