The family of US Senator John McCain announced Friday that he is stopping treatment for brain cancer. Since December, the six-term Arizona senator and 2008 Republican presidential candidate has been at home near Sedona.
McCain, 81, was surrounded by family and friends.
In his final days, questions about McCain’s life, his political career, his family and who might succeed him in the U.S. Senate resurfaced.
Here’s some key facts about the senior Arizona senator you need to know.
McCain announced that he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, called glioblastoma, in July 2017.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, glioblastoma tumors are usually malignant and difficult to treat. The median survival rate for the most common type of glioblastoma is 14.6 months, the association said.
Since his diagnosis, McCain has continued his Senate duties as much as he can and has weighed in on policy developments and news via Twitter and press releases.
He once returned to DC after his initial treatment to vote decisively on the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.
His political career
McCain first ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1982 and served two terms before successfully running for the United States Senate in 1986. He was elected to six terms, the last in 2016 .
He authored the McCain-Feingold Act Regulating Federal Political Candidate and Campaign Financing, which President Bush signed into law in 2002. He is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Throughout his career, McCain advocated for an aggressive American foreign policy that attempted to resolve conflicts around the world.
He came to love the procedures and processes of the US Senate. Citing the need to return to “regular order”, the latest Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act was dramatically defeated, voting decisively 49 to 51.
His candidacies for the presidency
McCain has run for president twice, in 2000 and 2008.
During his 2000 run, his main rival was George W. Bush, who had the support of the party establishment. His bid for the Republican nomination alienated many conservatives. He eventually withdrew from the race after losing the primaries to Bush on Super Tuesday that year. Later, McCain spoke in favor of his former opponent.
In 2006, McCain began redefining himself as an establishment Republican candidate to prepare for his 2008 presidential race. He formally announced his candidacy on April 25, 2007, and eventually won the Republican nomination for president after former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee conceded the race.
McCain took on Democratic nominee Barack Obama, whose “Hope and Change” campaign offered a clean break from Bush. McCain chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, which sparked some controversy and failed to connect with voters on the economy, the most important issue at the time.
Obama won the popular vote, 52.9 percent to 45.6 percent, and won the Electoral College 365 to 173. In his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore, McCain graciously spoke about the significance of the victory to ‘Obama and would no longer try for the White House.
Who will succeed him?
McCain has not resigned his seat and will likely remain a U.S. senator until his death.
When a vacancy in the Senate is declared, it will be up to Governor Doug Ducey to fill the vacancy. State law dictates that the replacement must be a Republican, as McCain is, and will serve in the Senate until voters elect a new senator in the next general election.
Although there would be a general election on Nov. 6, McCain’s successor would serve at least until the next general election in 2020. The winner of that election would serve the remainder of McCain’s six-year term, which ends after the 2022 elections in January 2023. .
Nothing is stopping Ducey from nominating himself, although he has ruled himself out on several occasions, and his spokesperson has chastised political pundits and national media for speculating who he might nominate to replace McCain.
Barbara Barrett, a former US ambassador, emerged as one of the candidates to fill McCain’s seat, but several other names have also been proposed.
His military career and time as a POW
In 1967, McCain, a bomber pilot, was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. Son and grandson of admirals and a graduate of the US Naval Academy, service was in his blood.
He narrowly survived a harrowing naval disaster on the USS Forrestal, three months before he was shot down in his plane over Hanoi on October 26, 1967. North Vietnamese soldiers pulled his body from a lake and took him to Hanoi Main Jail.
McCain was beaten and tortured while in custody. He was offered early release from prison in June 1968 but refused, saying it was not honourable.
Gaunt and limping, Navy Lt. Cmdr. John McCain was released from North Vietnamese custody in March 1973 after more than five brutal years as a prisoner of war.
McCain has seven children from two marriages.
McCain married model Carol Shepp in 1965 in Philadelphia. He adopted his two school-age sons from a previous marriage, Doug and Andrew, and in 1966 they had a daughter, Sidney.
The couple eventually separated and divorced.
In 1979, McCain met a former cheerleader, Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a major Arizona beer marketer. Within a year of meeting Cindy, he filed for divorce from Carol. A month after that marriage dissolved, he married Cindy in Phoenix in 1980.
The couple had a daughter, Meghan, in 1984 and, shortly after, sons John Sidney McCain IV, known as Jack, and James, who goes by Jimmy.
The couple adopted their fourth child, Bridget, after Cindy met her on a humanitarian trip to Bangladesh in 1991.
His retirement near Sedona
McCain has a residence in a high-rise in Phoenix, but his Arizona retreat is in Cornville, an unincorporated community with a population of about 3,200, just west of Sedona.
Wedged between Sedona and Cottonwood, the family ranch is about 185 miles from Phoenix. Cornville has no public square and no traffic. There are four restaurants and two bars. There are no streetlights or sidewalks.
Cindy first saw Hidden Valley Ranch in 1983, and the couple spent the next 20 years remodeling the land, building guest houses, and buying the neighboring land.
His latest book
McCain released his latest book, “The Restless Wave” in late May. It was the third book in an autobiographical trilogy that includes 1999’s “Faith of My Fathers” and 2002’s “Worth the Fighting For”.
In it, he did not hold back his criticism of Washington, DC, under President Donald Trump. He also suggested his confused questioning of former FBI Director James Comey during a Senate hearing had to do with his brain tumor.
Around the same time, HBO also released a documentary called “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls,” a celebration of the Arizona senator’s life, in which many of his political allies and opponents described the life of McCain service.
His political quarrels
Throughout his political career, McCain has found himself in the midst of political wrangling, none more contentious than his recent battles with Trump.
Several of McCain’s intimates told the White House that Trump would not be invited to McCain’s funeral. Trump once poked fun at McCain’s record as a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War, saying McCain was “a war hero because he was captured” and that he loved “people who don’t ‘were not captured’. This isn’t the first or last insult the president has hurled at McCain.
Cindy and Meghan both went wild on Twitter in May after reports surfaced that White House special assistant Kelly Sadler said ‘Whatever, he’s dying anyway’ while speaking of McCain’s opposition to Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel. Sadler has since left the administration.
CONTINUED: Tweet by tweet: John McCain and Donald Trump feuded for years