The Atlantic

Arizona Senator John McCain Dies at 81

The war hero and elder statesman of the Republican Party had fought a year-long battle with brain cancer.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

Endurance served John Sidney McCain III nearly as well in politics as it did in war.

McCain, who died on Saturday at age 81 after a year-long struggle with brain cancer, endured more than five years of mistreatment and torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, an experience that helped vault him into national politics and endear himself as a hero to the voting public. There he endured scandal and smears, electoral defeats and his own occasional recklessness to make two serious runs at the presidency and earn a place as one of America’s most respected political figures during the last two decades of his life.

Alternately witty and hot-tempered, McCain used candor and accessibility to break through at a time when politicians were closing themselves off to the public and the press. His freewheeling 2000 presidential campaign against George W. Bush positioned him as the Republican front-runner in 2008, when after a roller-coaster candidacy he secured the nomination only to lose to Barack Obama.

During a 31-year career representing Arizona in the Senate, McCain frequently decried the usual politics but proved himself to be a nimble politician: He began as a loyal Ronald Reagan Republican but later cultivated a reputation as a maverick, defying his party at key moments, which earned him kudos from Democrats and independents

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