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The Death Of US Senator John McCain. Aired: 11-12m ET
Aired August 25, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, ANCHOR, CNN: The breaking news this day, the death of US Senator John McCain. Welcome to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
He served as a US senator for more than 30 years, six terms in that role, better known as the Maverick. US Senator John McCain passed away Saturday afternoon. He was at his home near Sedona, Arizona, surrounded by his family.
In his final hour, he just recently discontinued treatment for the aggressive form of brain cancer he was fighting. People knew this moment would come, but still it didn't make it any easier for the many, many people who knew him, people who admired him, people who loved him. His Senate colleagues remember him as a giant in that body; politically conservative, but fiercely principled and independent.
His absence in the US Senate this year due to declining health, it was clear a true warrior until the end. He battled an aggressive form of brain cancer first diagnosed in 2017. John McCain served as a US Navy aviator for more than 20 years. Mr. McCain was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967, captured and held there as a prisoner of war for more than five years.
After the war, he returned to politics in the United States. He ran for president of the United States twice, and in 2008 became the Republican nominee, eventually losing to the former President Barack Obama.
Take a look at these images that we're seeing just outside Sedona, Arizona. Again, we see the hearse escorted down the highway just outside Sedona. CNN's Stephanie Elam is live outside Mr. McCain's home in Sedona, Arizona. Stephanie, tell us more about what you've heard, what you've seen on this truly sad day.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: George, what we understand is that the Senator himself was very much involved in the planning of what would happen after he passed away. For over a year, he was battling brain cancer so he knew that this was coming and when he spoke about his legacy, he spoke with such humility about how he wanted to be remembered.
But what we've seen out here in Sedona, outside of this dirt road that's behind me now, it's shrouded in darkness, you can't see it now that night has fallen, but about a mile up the road, we understand is where the family lovingly called the home there, "The Cabin," and that is where the senator spent his final moments surrounded by family, we understand, and really took the time to plan out what he wanted to happen.
While we were standing out here, after we got word that he passed away, there was a procession of police officers on motorcycles followed by some SUVs and a hearse and they went into the property and it wasn't much longer when those SUVs and that hearse made their way out of here.
From what we understand, the family is on now en route to Phoenix, is what we're understanding here. It's about a two-hour drive from Sedona to Phoenix. And since this news is starting to spread here in Arizona, where the senator was very much beloved here, keep in mind, he was elected six times to represent the state in the US Senate, and we've seen people coming by, bringing flowers.
One man with a very large Trump banner on the side of his pickup truck came by with a sign that said, "Senator McCain, we thank you for your service." That's noteworthy considering how the senator and the president have sparred, even recently, as recent as the summer, we saw the senator speak out about some of the behavior he did not appreciate from the president.
So still here in Arizona, you're seeing an outpouring of love and support. People stopping by to get that news and just taking a moment for it to sink in here, but everything that has happened here since we learned that the senator has passed, moving rather expeditiously as they were planning for this, all of this, George, as it was just four days before Senator McCain would have turned 82 years old.
HOWELL: Stephanie, again, we're looking at these images right beside you, these images in progress, the hearse going down the highway just outside Phoenix, Arizona, as you described. And, you know, earlier you really put it into context, because this is where Senator McCain wanted to spend his final days, just in Sedona, Arizona. And you described the beauty of that part of the country, the red rocks out there. It's dark right now so people can't quite see that. But I think it might be fitting just to again remind viewers of what you saw, the feeling you experienced there, this place where Senator McCain wanted to be when his life would come to an end.
ELAM: I've been to Sedona before, George, but nothing can take your breath away as when you come up over the hillside and you see those red rocks standing there. The beauty of this part of Arizona, I know everyone thinks of Phoenix and the desert, but it's different up here.
ELAM: And the stunning swirl and shades cast by the clouds, and the pink in the sky as the sun begins to set, and the large full moon that I watched rise over the hillside here close to the McCain property, it's stunning here. It's beautiful here, and it's completely evident why the senator would want to spend his final days here and then on this day, to see that the sky grew more and more gray as it became closer to the late afternoon. And then there were bits and spots of raindrops that fell throughout
the afternoon as well, and all of it seemed very fitting for a man who was so loved, not just in Arizona but deeply in this part of the state.
HOWELL: Stephanie Elam just outside Sedona, Arizona. And again, you're seeing these images. You saw a moment ago of the hearse traveling down the highway, headed toward Phoenix, the valley of the sun, of course a very sad moment for that state, and certainly for this nation. Stephanie, thank you.
Let's now bring in by phone senior political analyst David Gergen. David, thank you again for taking time with us here on the show to talk about the life and legacy of John McCain. Let's start by talking about the spirit of this man, David - a Vietnam vet, a POW who survived torture, this lawmaker better known as the Maverick, charting his own course, putting country first. How do you remember him?
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I'm so glad you started with that story, because I think it's one of inspiration, about courage, and about character at a time when the country so needs new heroes or icons, so young people can look up to somebody. John McCain reminds us what that's all about.
I think it's worthwhile remembering that story, George. He was captured in Vietnam at a time when his father was a four-star Admiral and who headed up the Pacific fleet and the North Vietnamese, when they realized that he was the son of Admiral McCain, went to John McCain and said, "We're going to let you go home, we're going to free you because of your father and who you are," and he said, "I'll only go home if my men go home with me."
And the North Vietnamese refused that, and he stayed and he was tortured. And our POWs in the Vietnam War were in prison longer than any other war in American history. They suffered badly, but John McCain came out with the respect of his comrades and increasingly of the country and the world.
HOWELL: David, how would you say his military experience, his service, how did that play into his life of public service?
GERGEN: I think it heavily shaped his life. I think he discovered the military service as his father and his grandfather had, as doing something beyond self. John McCain was always talking about that all his life. It was one of the most rewarding things one could do, it was a way to give back and say thank you for letting me grow up in this country, the freedom I've enjoyed.
And John McCain, by the way, was also - he had a very playful side. He challenged authority a lot. He had a lot of demerits when he went through the academy. When he came out, he was steeled for the occasion. But there were a lot of wonderful stories about John McCain the hell raiser, too.
GERGEN: Well, look, the last time he was in Washington, DC, this was back in December and Senator McCain, he lived 13 months after his diagnosis again with this aggressive form of brain cancer. This Wednesday would have been his 82nd birthday, just shy of making that birthday, David. But even in fighting cancer, he still continued to make his voice heard with, as you point out, the political winds shifting, quite frankly to his dislike.
GERGEN: Yes, that's right. There's something about, to some people, it's spooky that he died on the same day of the year that Ted Kennedy died, of the same disease. I think John McCain would have found something very special about that, because he knew a lot about American history, and he would remind you that two of the founding fathers famously died on the same day, in the same year, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and it was on the 50th anniversary of the Fourth of July, 1776 and one of those quirks in history when two people come together and John McCain and Ted Kennedy really had a great deal of respect for each other.
GERGEN: They were people who were larger than life and also reached across the aisle. In many ways, it's very fitting that John McCain would think it to, I think, and I wondered if he let himself go, in some ways, for that day, to die on the same day as his friend, Teddy Kennedy.
HOWELL: Wow. We didn't even think of that possibility, David. You know, I want to - you're on the phone with us, so you may not be able to see the images, but I want to ask our director to play a moment. There were certain moments, David, as you'll remember, moments that really stood out in John McCain's life.
One moment, and we just played it a moment ago, but this was that critical moment on the Senate floor. This of course after Republicans took the White House under control of the US President Donald Trump. They controlled both the House and Senate and McCain's colleagues needed his vote for the complete repeal of Obamacare, you saw it there, that move in dramatic flair, denying them the opportunity.
David, that was a moment, and then I want to play this other moment. This was during the campaign when McCain was running against the then Democratic candidate Barack Obama during a town hall. A woman accused Mr. Obama of being an Arab. Here's how Senator John McCain handled it. Let's listen and watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have heard about him and he's not - he's not - he's a - he's an Arab. He is not - no?
JOHN MCCAIN, US SENATOR, ARIZONA, REPUBLICAN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: David, nowadays it takes fact checkers, it takes teams to help people sort out fact from fiction, but John McCain in that moment, the man stood for integrity.
HOWELL: He was there and he said what needed to be said. The question I have for you, this man who stood as a tower of bipartisanship regardless of blowback, what are your thoughts about that life that he lived and he stood by?
GERGEN: Well, I have a great deal of respect for it because I think he was a person of integrity. He stood up for what he thought was right. He was willing to take a lot of punishment, you know, when he did that. Especially say on the Obamacare that you cited.
I thought one of the pieces you had, when he talked to that woman, that was very special to me because in the rallies of Sarah Palin, his running mate, controversial running mate, and John McCain were starting to get very rowdy and very anti-Obama, and there was a racist quality to it, but there was also a very threatening quality to it.
And McCain said, put a stop to that. He did not think that was in bounds. It was out of bounds to go after Obama like that. He stood up and said that. And I can tell you, some people in his party didn't like that. But at a time when the Trump rallies are as controversial as they are, and a lot of people in his base welcome these rallies, as a time for them to really express their true feelings, but a lot of people who are not part of the McCain base see those rallies as threatening and as increasingly - you know, when they say "lock her up" and all the other stuff, it's very disturbing, and they worry about the safety of those rallies and nobody has put a stop to that in a (inaudible) rally, so I'm sorry to say, I would hope the President would do that.
HOWELL: David Gergen, our senior political analyst on the phone with us remembering the life and legacy of the US Senator John McCain. David, thank you again for taking the time to join us on the phone in Massachusetts.
GERGEN: It's a privilege to take part in honoring him. Thank you.
HOWELL: Thank you kindly for the context today. Again, you're watching CNN. Breaking news coverage, the death of a giant, the US Senator John McCain. We'll be right back after the break.
HOWELL: Highly revered, better known as the Maverick. The US Senator John McCain has passed away. He died Saturday evening at his ranch, family at his side, in Sedona, Arizona, after battling brain cancer.
His Washington political career began some 40 years ago, first as a Navy Senate liaison, then in the House of Representatives, and in 1986, McCain began his storied career in the US Senate.
A staunch conservative, he frequently reached across the aisle, often to the consternation of fellow Republicans. He ran for the White House twice coming up short both times. But at the same time, garnering respect from Republicans and Democrats alike and also keeping a sense of humor and accepting his well-earned status of a maverick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I've been called a Maverick, someone who marches to the beat of his own drum.
And the American people know me very well and that is independent and a Maverick of the Senate and I'm happy to say that I've got a partner that's a good Maverick along with me now.
I'm a Maverick. No one expected us to agree on everything.
Maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Reed Galen now joins us by phone. Reed in Park City, Utah. Reed is a Republican political strategist and the former deputy campaign manager for Senator John McCain's presidential campaign back in 2008. Reed, again thank you for taking time with us this day.
Look, you were with Senator McCain during one of his boldest moments, running for the highest office in the land. How do you remember those moments and how do you remember him?
REED GALEN, FORMER DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR JOHN MCCAIN: Sure. well, thanks for having me. You know, I think the senator was very much in person how you probably might have seen him on television. He did not mince words. Very often, he was you know extremely honest, forthright, blunt, when he needed to be, but also had an incredible sense of humor and certainly a sense of duty and honor over - the country before all ...
GALEN: ... and I think that over the course of 60 years, first in the Navy and then in Congress as you all mentioned, I think he showed that every day, that this was something that was more than just an idea. It was an ideal.
HOWELL: Reed, Senator McCain was very clear that he had dislikes about the shifting of political winds in Washington. The last time he was in Washington, December of last year, I believe, but again, during that time he frequently spoke up about things he didn't like. Talk to us about that dissonance really, the disconnect between the Republican Party that Senator McCain envisioned, the changes that he wasn't supportive of.
GALEN: Sure. I mean, I can remember that both in 2000 and again in 2008, his campaign bus and campaign plane were called the Straight Talk Express, right? He didn't mince words. He told you what he thought. He told you what he was feeling, and I think that although he was a man of very strong emotion, and very strong convictions, he was a Republican, a lifelong Republican. He was always willing to work across the aisle. He saw politics as a
necessary part of governance and a part of how this country was great, but did not stop him from doing the right thing for the greatest number of people, whether or not that was finding allies with Republicans or finding allies with Democrats, whatever the case might have been.
I think certainly in the last couple of years, as we've seen, this was no longer the party of not only John McCain but of George Bush and Mitt Romney. This is a new Republican Party, one that, you know, looked, unfortunately, looked down on Senator McCain as someone who wasn't pure enough, whatever that case might have been, because he was willing to put the country before his party legislation, and I think that that is a sad testament to where the Republican Party is, but also a proud testament to who John McCain was.
HOWELL: We also understand that US Senator McCain of course took time to plan, you know, what would happen upon his death. We understand that he does not want the current US President at his funeral. He does want previous presidents to attend, to speak for him. But just speaking to that disconnect, you know, there was clear animosity between these two figures. It is an unfortunate disconnect, it seems.
GALEN: Yes, I think it is, and I think it is one, unfortunately, you know, I think that certainly Senator McCain was probably never a fan of President Trump's brand of politics. But also understand that Senator McCain was many things, but willing to sit idly by while someone impugned his service and his honor, I think it was something that he was never going to abide by.
And certainly President Trump during his campaign and since then has apparently taken glee in both insulting Senator McCain's service, his imprisonment, the votes he's taken in the United States Senate, certainly the one where he saved whatever is left of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act and that's the kind of thing where John McCain was perfectly willing to disagree with you on policy or politics, but he was not going to sit by and allow you to impugn his honor.
HOWELL: Reed Galen on the phone with us from Park City, Utah. Reed, again, thank you so much for taking time to remember the US senator.
GALEN: Thank you.
HOWELL: Let's now bring in veteran journalist Dan Rather, joining on the phone from New York. Dan, we appreciate your time today. During your extensive career, you covered Senator John McCain a great deal. How do you remember him?
DAN RATHER, VETERAN JOURNALIST: Well, first of all, thank you very much for - I'm grateful to be on the air with you. I remember John McCain over so many years. I think I first met him sometime in the 1970s.
The thing about John McCain was, you know, he would be the first to say he wasn't perfect, which is to say he was human. But he always valued service to country above anything else. He considered himself a loyal Republican, but as a US Senator and before that a Representative, he prided himself on, I guess, you could say his iconoclasm. That he was his own man, did his own thinking. He was loyal to the party when he felt he could be, and that was an overwhelming amount of the time. When he felt he couldn't be, he made it clear, he spoke up, there was no peeking and no hiding with John McCain.
RATHER: What we have here - we, as a country, we have lost one of our iconic political leaders with the passing of John McCain. He was a brave man, as evidenced by his experience during the Vietnam War, a hero by any reasonable analysis of that term. A public servant. He was a warrior, a public servant. He was exactly the kind of person that everybody hopes is in the US Congress, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or something in between or outside.
He is exactly the kind of person that you always hoped will be representing us in Washington. I knew John, I knew him well enough to admire many of his qualities from up close, having covered him over the years. Not saying well enough to call him an actual friend. He had many close friends, and I am mourning with them and his family of course.
HOWELL: Dan, you put forward a statement, I want to read part of it. In part you say, "McCain was controversial and far from perfect." In short, you say he was human, "But at best he was frequent, he echoed the highest traditions and ideals of American democracy. He voted his conscience. He spoke out fiercely against the current regime." It does speak, as you were mentioning here, to the polarity right now. It seems that there's not really much room for middle ground.
But again, you see John McCain, he was a man who did reach across the aisle. He was who stood for partisanship.
RATHER: And that's the point. I said, he always was country first. He was loyal to his party, as I say, when he could be. But he was never one of those people whose first consideration was how is this going to affect me? How is it going to affect my political future? and furthermore, he was never one who said, "Well, I need to do what the party wants me to do or what the party line is." It was always country first with him.
We speak a lot, often offhandedly, about honor and integrity and John McCain had this deep within himself and part of that was always reflected, he was always thinking country first. And when you look around today, finding people in public service, in elected public office who take that view, but the first priority is the country, well, the best we can say is we better hope we get more John McCains.
HOWELL: Veteran journalist Dan Rather on the phone with us live from New York. Dan, we appreciate your time and your perspective, your remembrance of the US Senator John McCain. Thank you.
RATHER: Thank you very much. HOWELL: Again, CNN following the breaking news this day, a sad day,
the death of John McCain. We'll continue our coverage right after the break.
HOWELL: And our continuing coverage, the death of the US Senator John McCain, a war hero better known as the Maverick. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. And reaction continues to come in from many of the people who knew Senator McCain best.
First, his wife Cindy McCain. She sent out a tweet after his passing. The tweet saying, "My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best."
McCain's daughter Meghan released a statement also saying this in part, "I was with my father at his end and he was with me at my beginning. In the 33 years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me, and supported me in all things. He loved me and I loved him. He taught me how to live. His love and his care ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman and he showed me what it is to be a man."
The former US President Barack Obama ran against John McCain for the office of president back in 2008. Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama released this statement saying in part, quote, "We share for all of our differences a fidelity to something higher, the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed. We saw our political battles even as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those higher ideals at home and to advance them around the world."
It goes on to say, "Few of us have been tested the way John once was or required to show the kind of courage that he did, but all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own." And it goes on to say, "At John's best, he showed us what that means and for that we are in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family," end quote.
We're joined now on the phone by Douglas Brinkley, CNN presidential historian and history professor at Rice University. Douglas, a pleasure to have you on the show, thank you for your time. Again, we just got a sense of this. This is a statesman, a legislator who was close to his rival, the former President Barack Obama, but given the political changes, the shifting of winds, not close to the current US President. Let's talk just a bit about that disconnect, which was very clear and evident.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, CNN: Well, it is a big disconnect that John McCain had with Donald Trump. You know, McCain really admired all American presidents - John F. Kennedy had been one of his first heroes. In October of 1962, McCain had been on the "Enterprise," which was Navy's first nuclear aircraft carrier and actually went to the waters off of Cuba for the Cuban missile crisis and was so proud to be serving in the Navy under John F. Kennedy.
And so it went throughout his career. Presidents mattered to him. He particularly loved Ronald Reagan and he became good friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
BRINKLEY: And, you know, with Barack Obama, he got along well, but not Donald Trump, because they have a totally different view of what it means to have American service. John McCain really was about doing something for your country, not for yourself.
Donald Trump has made a career in many ways as a self promoter. So the idea that they were kind of anti-themed characters to each other when you look at our great American pageant, there's not much in common between a John McCain and a Donald Trump.
HOWELL: Let's talk about his life in military, Douglas, because that life certainly helped to shape his life in politics.
BRINKLEY: Military means everything to John McCain. I mean, he was born in the Panama Canal zone. When he ran for president, some people wondered, are you an American citizen being born in the canal zone? But of course he was, and he had an incredible family of Naval heroes - his father, grandfather and others. So they meant everything to him.
I think he was a quintessential Cold War warrior. He always wanted to beat the Soviet Union. He loved what we fought for in this country. In fact (inaudible) Roosevelt for freedom, he's believed in democracy and when you look at the USSR in the Cold War, he saw totalitarianism, it was worth defeating.
And of course, his putting his neck on the line in Vietnam like he did, almost died when the "USS Forrestal" had its horrible fire incident in which over a thousand sailors died, and he did all these missions over Vietnam and was shot down by Hanoi and spent that five and a half years in imprisonment that we've been talking about on CNN. But he got back and devoted his career to the men and women of the Armed Forces. Nobody loved him more than people that are in the Navy, Air Force, Army, National Guard because he understood them, he was one of them.
He talked about public service. He was great friends with America's Secretaries of Defense, and so the loss is going to be profound for people that make a living defending the United States of America.
HOWELL: Douglas, this question, and I think it is central to the times that we're in right now, but again, when people see John McCain, they again do remember a person who would reach across the aisle. His motto, "let's get things done, let's find a way to do it together." You'll remember he did not like the approach of trying to appeal Obamacare. He felt that it needed to have Democrat support and you do remember that motion that he made in dramatic fashion denying his colleagues the vote they needed to help repeal completely Obamacare.
The question that I pass on to you here, does John McCain, does he represent a bygone era of bipartisanship?
BRINKLEY: In many ways it's a bygone era for now, but one always lives with the hope that bipartisanship will come back. I mean, John McCain - he was a conservative, let's make no bones about it. He was a student of people like Barry Goldwater of Arizona. He was a rock hard conservative. But he was pragmatic, and he loved all fellow Americans. His sense of humor, the fact that he learned to like people for being people, allowed him to try to do big things on Capitol Hill.
He would work with John Kerry, for example, on getting the remains back from - of our soldiers from Vietnam, and for normalization of relations with Vietnam. He worked with Russ Feingold on doing campaign finance reform. He worked with Ted Kennedy on all sorts of things, so the spirit of bipartisanism lived within John McCain's legacy, and hopefully, as we celebrate and mourn his life, people will remember when we had bipartisan warriors, and that's what McCain was. His all-seasons hero was Theodore Roosevelt, and TR was that way, too, so much so that TR created a bull moose party, a third party, because he sometimes liked Democratic things and sometimes Republican things, and McCain was very much of that stamp.
HOWELL: I am sure, Douglas there from Ladybird Lake there, my hometown of Boston to the Potomac, absolutely, people around this country are mourning. This is certainly a sad day as the nation loses a giant. Douglas, thank you for your time today.
BRINKLEY: Thank you.
HOWELLL: Your watching CNN breaking news coverage, the death of the US Senator John McCain. We'll be right back after this break. Stand by.
HOWELL: Remembering and celebrating the life of a great American hero, the US Senator John McCain described by people who knew him as genuine, boldly persistent and brave.
The man became an institution respected by both sides of the aisle during his more than 30 years in Congress. He survived five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, shot down in North Vietnam. He did not let though stand as the defining experience of his career, his life.
He ran for president of the United States twice. And today, his friends and former rivals, they are remembering him, they are honoring him. John McCain died Saturday at his home in Arizona, this after battling a vicious form of brain cancer. John McCain was 81 years old, he would have been 82 years old this next Wednesday. He remained grateful, writing this year in his memoir, quote, "The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much leaving it, spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in Earnest Hemmingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls." I do, too, I hate to leave it. But I don't have a complaint, not one. It's been quite a ride," he says. Let's now bring in CNN congressional reporter Lauren Fox in
Washington, DC. Lauren, what is the reaction there across the nation's capital?
LAUREN FOX, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, CNN: Well, such a strong outpouring from lawmakers, from both sides of Capitol Hill. One of the most notable tonight came from Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat leading the Senate Democrats. He said that he wanted to introduce some kind of resolution that would actually rename one of the Senate buildings after John McCain.
FOX: It would be the Russell Senate Office Building, that's where McCain kept his office for many decades. Just a note about how strong his relationships were across the aisle. And there's just so much that lawmakers are saying about their friend, their colleague John McCain.
You know, it sounds like so many of them are missing the senator tonight, trying to remember what it would even be like to go back to work without McCain. Obviously, he was a friend to many, and someone who, you know, didn't always vote with his Republican colleagues. He was somebody who voted against, for example, repealing the Affordable Care Act last year, voting with Democrats because he said that the process just wasn't bipartisan enough, they didn't go through regular order and he just is a man who will be remembered for having such a legacy in the US Senate.
HOWELL: Lauren Fox, live for us in the nation's capital, Lauren, thank you, this day, for the reporting.
Over the past year, McCain has been planning for his final days and he often discussed with friends and family what he would like for his funeral. Now, plans have not officially been announced but sources tell CNN John McCain favored three different locations for services. One, his home state of Arizona, the National Cathedral in Washington, and Annapolis, Maryland, home of the US Naval Academy. Former Presidents George W. Bush and the former President Barack Obama have been asked to give eulogies.
More on the remarkable life of Senator John McCain after this break. Stay with us.
HOWELL: We continue with the breaking news this hour, the death of the US Senator John McCain passed away at 81 years old. His family announced Friday that he had stopped treatment for the aggressive form of brain cancer that he was fighting. John McCain is being praised across the political spectrum as a Naval officer, a prisoner of war and a statesman, he served his country for six decades.
John McCain was elected six times to the US Senate, representing the US state of Arizona, a place that he deeply loved, a place that he greatly respected. To talk more about that, let's bring in Jim Nintzel. Jim, an
executive editor with the "Tucson Weekly" on the phone with us from Tucson, Arizona. Jim, again, we thank you kindly for your time today. Let's start by talking about that state where you live. The place where you cover news. What did John McCain think of Arizona? What did that place mean to him?
JIM NINTZEL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, TUCSON WEEKLY: Oh, you know, I think John McCain, who came to Arizona when he was ready to launch a political career and was exiting the Navy, really found a deep, deep love for Arizona as an adopted son of the state, and I think he succeeded the great Barry Goldwater in the Senate, and I think he left just as great a mark on the state as Barry Goldwater did.
HOWELL: There are so many issues that are specific to Arizona that of course, John McCain, many of them he supported; some of them he disagreed with, but many of those issues, for instance, immigration, a big sticking point of difference as we're seeing the US President take one approach. It is one example of the disconnect between these two American figures.
NINTZEL: Without a doubt. I mean, John McCain was a co-sponsor of the gang of eight legislation during the Obama administration's second term, and that really, I think was at a time when Republicans were thinking, "Hey, we should get something done on this." John McCain often had the opportunity to be confronted by people complaining about illegal immigration. He would talk about how we're all God's children.
He had a compassion for the illegal immigrants that I think was not shared by many people in the party in Arizona and as a result, he frequently clashed with Republicans here who saw him as Republican in name only because of some of the stances that he took.
He was a maverick politician and he took some stances that were at odds certainly with the rest of the Republican Party sometimes.
HOWELL: Stand by just one moment, Jim Nintzel on the phone with us. What we're seeing right now just for our viewers watching here in the United States and of course, around the world at this hour, we're looking at the hearse there. That is the hearse carrying the Senator through the Phoenix, Arizona area.
Again, we've been watching this for the past several hours and these are the images in progress as that is happening in the state of Arizona. Jim Nintzel on the phone with us again, and Jim, I want to ask you how do you think John McCain will be remembered by people in your state?
NINTZEL: You know, it's going to be complicated and different people are going to remember him in different ways. But I think a story that talks a lot about who John McCain was, was the relationship he had with Southern Arizona Congressman Mo Udall in the 1990s. Mo Udall was a very liberal Democrat, reached out, made friends with John McCain when he first came to Washington and Mo eventually succumbed to Parkinson's Disease, spent the last several years of his life in a hospital in Washington, DC and John McCain would go and visit him on a regular basis. He was one of the few people who was always stopping by to see how Mo was doing or sharing stories with him.
And I think that had to do with him understanding that politicians were people first and it wasn't a matter of whether you were a Democrat or a Republican, people could work together for a common good and I think that's the sort of thing, we're not seeing a lot of in Washington anymore.
HOWELL: Jim Nintzel again on the phone with us joining us from Tucson, Arizona. Jim, thank you very much. Let's close the show out here by looking at these images. Again, these images in progress taking place in Phoenix, Arizona. What you're watching right now, it is the hearse carrying John McCain. Again, passed away in Sedona, Arizona.
John McCain died at the age of 81 years old. He had his family, he had his friends, of course monitoring the news, but family of course right by his side in his final hour. We're seeing these images again as he's heading into Phoenix, the valley of the sun, the place certainly where many people supported his many, many terms as a US Senator. John McCain, a POW. John McCain a Vietnam vet.
HOWELL: John McCain, the statesman. John McCain better known as the Maverick. Again, John McCain died at 81 years old, died after fighting a very aggressive form of brain cancer and you're watching CNN live coverage this hour as we continue to remember the life and legacy of John McCain.
Stay with us. We will of course continue to bring you the reaction, people's responses, the thoughts about this man as our coverage continues.
We continue following the breaking news this day, the death of a legend. The US Senator John McCain. We welcome our viewers here in the United States and around world. I'm George Howell at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
John McCain served the US Senate for more than 30 years. Six terms in that role, better known as the Maverick and what you're seeing right here, these images in progress, the hearse being carried through the city of Phoenix, Arizona. John McCain being remembered ...