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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS

Moments That Made A Man. Aired: 10-11p ET

Aired August 25, 2018 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR, ARIZONA, REPUBLICAN: Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you, but is not defined by your existence alone. We cannot always choose the moments, often they arrive unbidden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, ANCHOR, CNN: It is decision day for the Republican-led Senate. The stakes are high. Today an emotional return to Capitol Hill, Senator John McCain coming back for a crucial health care vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: July 25th, 2017, for a 40-year Senate veteran returning to Washington to vote is standard stuff, but this day was anything but standard.

DON LEMON, ANCHOR, CNN: Tonight, Washington and the country united in prayers and well wishes for Senator John McCain.

SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It's an aggressive brain cancer. If you look at numbers alone, the average survival is around 14 months.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About two weeks earlier, John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer.

BROOKE BUCHANAN, SPOKESWOMAN AND CONFIDANTE OF JOHN MCCAIN: It's crushing. It's crushing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Confidante and former press secretary, Brooke Buchanan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN: I was so shocked when he told me he was flying back to DC. I was like, "No, stop. You can't. You have to rest." And he was like, "Oh, I feel fine. I'm going back, I'm going back."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain's dramatic entrance was straight out of one of the romantic hero novels he loves to read, a standing ovation from colleagues who gathered to greet him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It seemed to take him by surprise.

LINDSEY GRAHAM, US SENATOR, NORTH CAROLINA, REPUBLICAN: He appreciated it, didn't expect it, but it meant the world to him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Lindsey Graham is McCain's best friend in the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I've always viewed him as indestructible. This never crossed my mind that there would be political life for Lindsey Graham without John McCain until now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain knew he had everyone's attention and he took full advantage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MCCAIN, US SENATOR, ARIZONA, REPUBLICAN: I stand here today looking a little worse for wear I'm sure.

AMY KLOBUCHAR, US SENATOR, MINNESOTA, DEMOCRAT: The entire Senate floor is silent and everyone's listening and then you hear this crying and it was Cindy McCain up in the gallery.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Friend and fellow Senator, Amy Klobuchar remembers his wife's raw emotion. Out of sight of cameras, but audible inside the Senate chamber.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KLOBUCHAR: She's sitting up there knowing that he has this terminal diagnosis and then he stands there and seizes the moment again.

MCCAIN: We're getting nothing done, my friends. we're getting nothing done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Friends say even before he got sick, McCain had grown more and more frustrated with Senate dysfunction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: His grim diagnosis was like a license to let it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We've seen it before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: His party's bill to replace Obamacare was not bipartisan nor did it go through the Senate committee process or regular order as McCain demanded in his speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Why don't we try the old way of legislating in the Senate?

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: A marathon debate is underway as US senators try to overhaul Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senators are now focusing on what's being called skinny repeal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Three nights later, when the Senate was taking the pivotal Obamacare repeal vote, all eyes were on John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I think he was conflicted because he really does want to repeal and replace Obamacare, and there was a lot of pressure on him to do this and to do that. I said, "Do what you want to do."

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: As someone who had just learned of his own health challenges, to have a healthcare repeal bill with very little replacement I think was really close to his heart at that moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Hillary Clinton spoke to her former colleague and friend about how personal this decision was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON: He was getting the world's best care. There was nothing that would be beyond his reach if he needed it for his own treatment and I think he did really consider all of the people that he represents in Arizona and people across the country and worried that because it was rushed through and there was so little thought to it, what would happen to them?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Thoughts that weighed on McCain well into the early morning

hours of Friday, July 28th, as senators gathered for the vote, McCain was being lobbied and wooed in plain sight by Republican leadership, but he was quietly sending signals to friends on the other side of the aisle, like Democratic senator, Chris Coons.

[22:05:16]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS COONS, US SENATOR, DELAWARE, DEMOCRAT: He sort of had a twinkle in his eyes, and he said, "Still weighing some things, but I think we ought to find a way to work together," and then walks away. And we all sort of looked at each other. "Did that mean what you thought it meant?"

KLOBUCHAR: He came up to me in the well of the Senate where all the press gallery is hanging overlooking and whispers to me, "I'm voting no," and I said, "Oh, that's great." And then he says, "Do you think they can read my lips?" And I said, "No, don't think so, no."

BASH: It sounds like the way he delivered it, it was almost kind of in his typical devilish fashion.

KLOBUCHAR: He has this joy about him, about his work.

BASH: Especially when he's being a maverick.

KLOBUCHAR: Right, especially when he's being a maverick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: But his party leaders hadn't given up. McCain took a phone call from the President. On the Senate floor, Vice President Mike Pence pleaded with McCain to vote yes, but this is John McCain after all, former prisoner of war who survived five and a half years of beatings and interrogations in Vietnam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COONS: One of colleagues kept a running commentary and he kept saying, "I don't know. Which is tougher? DC interrogator or tired old senators?" Probably not going to change his mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: At 1:29 a.m., thumbs down. McCain voted no and killed that crucial Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McCain?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It made McCain a hero to Obamacare supporters, but a traitor to many in his party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is clearly a disappointing moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: A place he found himself many times in decades of legislative fights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON: He's been called the maverick for a reason because he's not just a maverick out there by himself kind of pursuing his own interests. That's not the kind of maverick John McCain is. John McCain likes to get things done that will make a difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: When we come back, McCain's first brush with death.

[22:10:00]

MCCAIN: My grandfather was a Naval aviator, my father a submariner. They were my first heroes and earning their respect has been the most lasting ambition of my life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: To really understand Senator McCain, you have got to understand where he comes from family wise. His dad was a four-star Admiral, his grandfather were a four-star Admiral.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: A storied legacy, the real life heroes John McCain grew up with.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: And I think his father and his grandfather instilled in him a sense of duty, honor and country.

COONS: He was born to service. At some point, he almost seemed to fight it.

JOHN WEAVER, FRIEND OF JOHN MCCAIN AND POLITICAL CONSULTANT: He also had a bit of James Dean in him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Friend and political consultant, John Weaver.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEAVER: He's a rogue figure at times, at the same time he's very intellectual and a scholar.

BASH: He's a rebel with a cause.

WEAVER: He's a rebel with multiple causes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: In his early years, McCain was actually a rebel without a cause. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. McCain's passion was for literature, not his family legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I had friends of mine who went to Ivy League schools as well the University of Virginia and I'm sure that part of my excuse for being rebellious was that I wanted to go to one of those schools. I always had a great interest in literature and history.

GRAHAM: The novels of the '30s and '40s.

WEAVER: Hemmingway. He loves "A Farewell to Arms." The heroic figures in the Spanish Civil War and he knows that frontwards and backwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's inspired by those larger than life figures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And as a flight school cadet, McCain romanticized his experience acting as if he were one of his favorite literary characters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I've wanted to fly airplanes by myself, a lot of aircraft carriers. I thought that was the height of glamour and excitement. Again, it was a bit self-absorbed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Beautiful women, fast cars and late nights were distractions and one incident in 1958 almost cost him his life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES LARSON, FRIEND: Crashed in Corpus Christi Bay. He sunk to the bottom. He was sitting on the bottom of the aircraft and he said, "You know, I remember there's some kind of a switch here somewhere that blows the canopy off the airplane, but I didn't read that book, and I don't know where the switch ism, so I guess I'm dead."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Old friend, Chuck Larson witnessed the crash and says McCain finally kicked the canopy open.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARSON: I don't think it changed him at all. John went back to the room, went to bed for about two hours, got up and we were out to the club for happy hour and he regaled everybody with stories of his crash.

WEAVER: I don't think until actually the Forestall which was really miraculous that he survived that he began to take his military career seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It was July 29th, 1967, his first combat mission aboard the USS Forrestal, an aircraft carrier assigned to bombing missions over Vietnam. A plane on the deck accidentally fired a missile which struck the fuel tank of the plane McCain was in. McCain escaped the deadly inferno, but others didn't. The fire spread across the ship's deck killing 134 men, injuring hundreds of others and destroying 20 planes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: It was terrible. I'll never forget some hours after the fire was at least under some control, I went up in the sick bay because I had gotten some shrapnel in my legs and there were these individuals lying there terribly burned and one of the individuals said, "Mr. McCain," I went over and he told me his name and he mentioned another pilot and he said, "He didn't make it, did he?" And I said, "No, he made it, he's fine." He said, "Thank God," and then he died.

[22:15:10]

MCCAIN: And, you know, those - those kinds of, you know, of sacrifice are really remarkable.

WEAVER: To this day, he talks about those moments. It changed him. He had made his mind up that that's what he was going to make a career out of being in the military. That was going to be his calling in life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: A calling that was about to take him to the darkest most torturous future. That when we come back.

MCCAIN: Vietnam changed me in significant ways for the better.

BASH: October 1967, 31-year-old John McCain took off for the 23rd time on a routine bombing mission over Vietnam, but then his Navy Skyhawk was struck in the right wing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: So I was gyrating very violently almost straight down, so I had to eject very quickly. I was knocked unconsciousness when I ejected and when I hit the water, I woke up. [22:20:04]

BASH: And angry villagers swinging bayonets were surrounding McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I was kind of dazed, so I wasn't sure what was going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: He was the son of a four-star admiral and the Vietnamese knew it. They forced him to give this interview and return for a life- saving surgery on his badly injured body.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I am treated well here.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: He was beaten on a regular basis being hung by his arms from a ceiling.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain told his friend and former Defense Secretary William Cohen that it was brutal and relentless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: He would try to pretend that he was cooperating by giving the names of the front line of the New York Giants or some other team who he knew who the players were and he would give their false names out and they would eventually find about it and beat him for that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Then a chance at freedom. It was May 1968, his father Jack McCain was named Commander of US Forces in the Pacific, which included Vietnam. The Vietnamese offered his son freedom. John McCain was tempted, but refused.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Did you know as Secretary of the Navy that he declined?

JOHN WARNER, FORMER SECRETARY OF NAVY: Oh, yes.

BASH: What did you think when you heard that?

WARNER: I said to myself, that is really a figure of strength.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: For McCain, it was his duty. The POWs Code of Conduct called for release in the order of capture. There were dozens ahead of McCain. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: There was a correlation between my refusal to accept early release and my treatment. The treatment got very much worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: What followed was months of nonstop beatings, hanging from his wrists, solitary confinement. At one point, McCain says he was even beaten by ten guards at a time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: His fellow prisoners literally had to feed him, right?

WEAVER: They did. They had to bathe him, cleanse him, help him to survive the things that you would have to do in a hospital for someone who's near death with a bucket of water and maybe a sponge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: By August 1968, McCain couldn't take it anymore.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEAVER: He signed a statement that he was an American black air pirate et cetera and admitted to their claims against him.

BASH: How much did that moment, the Vietnamese breaking him affect him from there on out?

WEAVER: Look, I think he wanted to die. I think he felt he had let the honor slip away from him. He felt shame that he had let the country down, he had let his father down, his family down, his compatriots down.

MCCAIN: Everybody, but mostly me. Mostly me because I - because the standards that I set for myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: He would be forever haunted by the shame he felt. Yet in the short-term, his fellow POWs pulled him through.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Get up off the floor. Go back at them. You lost a round. We'll win the fight. You always go back into the fight. You always come back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: But it was really about coming home and in March of 1973, after more than five and a half years of torture, isolation and illness, McCain was one of 100 POWs released by the North Vietnamese.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Of course, we were very happy. Of course, we were overjoyed, but we didn't want to betray a great deal of emotion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: John Warner was there when McCain saw his Admiral father for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARNER: I remember him coming down on the gangway. Difficulty walking and walking up and just, "Commander McCain, sir, reporting for duty." It was a very moving moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: The relentless beatings had taken a toll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WEAVER: You still see the impact of that today, the way he was tied, you know, the way he can't raise his arms, his hands can't comb his hair, the things we take for granted.

KLOBUCHAR: When I think about that healthcare vote when he went in there and went like that, part of why he moves like that is because he can't move his arms like other people can.

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: He never complains about it, but his life was altered.

I think in some sense maybe John has always felt that every day he has outside the Hanoi Hilton has been a gift and he's going to make the most of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Motivation that propelled McCain into the next stage of life and define who he was going to be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I'm announcing today my decision to become a candidate for the Republican nomination for US Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: The POW goes to Washington when we come back.

[22:25:16]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Political leadership is not so great a stretch for the military officer with a career change in mind. [22:30:08]

MCCAIN: Those who manage it do so I suppose because they can't imagine a life without wanting a prominent place in the nation's affairs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: John McCain's release from a North Vietnamese prison camp in the spring of 1973 was big news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was also the most seriously marked by his five and a half years of imprisonment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Behind the scenes, a bruised and battered McCain was uncertain about his future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARNER: He said, "I just want to spend a little time with my family and get off airplanes and I need to read a lot of back newspapers and find out what the hell's been going on." I said, "Well, let's - let's figure out something."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: That something took McCain out of the pilot seat and off to the nation's capital as a Navy liaison to the US Senate, an aid of sorts. A big part of his job, arranging international trips for senators like William Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Everyone knew about his background, what he had been through, and yet, he emerged with just a great sense of humor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: All that time around senators sparked his own political ambitions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: He probably looked at us and said, "Well, if these guys can get elected, I sure can do it, too."

MCCAIN: I think I started thinking about it when I saw that well- informed senators and people who knew the issues could have a significant impact on the formulation of national security policy.

I'm announcing today my decision to become a candidate for the Republican nomination for US Congress from Arizona's first district. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: In 1982, McCain decided to run for a US House seat from Tempe, Arizona, by then his home with his new wife, Cindy. He won and right away landed himself on the political map for a move that would help define him, one he would repeat throughout his career, bucking his own party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You were right not just to fight and die for freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain adored President Ronald Reagan, but the former military man disagreed with Reagan's plan to send troops into Lebanon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The fundamental question is what is the United States' interests in Lebanon? It is said we are there to keep the peace, I ask you, "What peace?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: On October 23rd, 1983, 241 American servicemen in Beirut were killed in their barracks by apparent car bombs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Everything in me told me that it was doomed to failure and I regret to this day that I was right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Yet standing up to Ronald Reagan and being right made McCain a powerful voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arizonans must choose between two very different candidates for US Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And in 1986, after just four years in the House, McCain launched a bid for an open Senate seat. He won by a landslide.

McCain brought his signature drive and persistence to the Senate. At times, his passion set fire to a temper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: ... so let's not put anything to rest ...

GRAHAM: He just, to this day, fights like he's a plebe at the Naval Academy.

TOM DASCHLE, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: John was always very transparent about his emotions.

DASH: Can I just translate?

DASCHLE: Yes.

DASH: He blew up. He had a temper.

DASCHLE: He blew up. Exactly.

H. CLINTON: He can get really wrought up and be upset with people and he can sometimes say things he later regrets.

KLOBUCHAR: I just take it as something that shakes things up a bit in the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAHS: It was on vivid display in 1989 when McCain's close friend and mentor from his days as a navy liaison, Senator John Tower was nominated to be Secretary of Defense. Early on allegations emerged that Tower was an excessive drinker and womanizer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: He was like a father to me in many respects. I knew John Tower and I know he didn't do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: After five weeks of testimony, Tower's nomination went down. The incident would significantly shape McCain's approach to politics, weary of personal attacks and of Christian conservatives who McCain blamed for attacking Tower.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: He's called them the agents of intolerance.

WEAVER: And is he wrong? This was about things bigger than that. This was about control of the party and putting then President Bush in his place, and he was maddened by that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Later that year, McCain's own conduct got him in hot water.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prosecutor's hope McCain's testimony will show the jury that he knew how serious his problems with Federal regulators were.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Charles Keating was the owner of the failed Lincoln Savings and

Loan Association. He was a contributor to John McCain's campaign and a partner of Cindy McCain on an Arizona real estate deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will now proceed to hear from Senator McCain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:35:13]

BASH: When regulators were investigating Keating and his SNS collapse, McCain, along with four other senators, met with them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I'm glad to have the opportunity to fully and publicly account for my relationship with Charles Keating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Many felt the senators were trying to influence the investigation to help Keating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: When he came to see me in March of 1987 ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It's something that McCain denied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: My mistake was to go to the meeting, but at the meeting I said that I wanted no special favors. I wanted anything done that would appear unethical or wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Ultimately McCain was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the allegations stuck with him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: I've never seen him more depressed and angry about having his honor challenged. I think that hurt him more than the North Vietnamese did.

BASH: The Keating Five scandal hurt him more ...

COHEN: Personally.

BASH: ... than being in prison for five and a half years and beaten?

COHEN: That's how I felt.

WEAVER: In his own mind, he allowed his honor to be besmirched and from that, a desire to clean up money in politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain dove into his Senate work throughout the 1990s ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The key challenge remained seeing the deficit under control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Taking on tough issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: What matters to me is the price of a pack of cigarettes coupled with other programs that will reduce teen smoking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Focusing on fixing government corruption.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: And I think John's feeling was always the fight is always worth it to fight against a system that is dishonest and corrupt and needs to be changed, even if you fail, the fight is worth carrying on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain spent the last decade of the 20th Century fighting a lot of battles, winning some and losing others.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I run because I believe deeply in the greatness of America's destiny.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And planting seeds for a run for the highest office in the land. That when we come back.

[22:40:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: It is because I owe America more than she has ever owed me that I am a candidate for President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It was September 1999 and John McCain set his sights on the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I run because I believe deeply in the greatness of America's destiny and in the goodness of our cause.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: He was the underdog to front-runner George W. Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: He was the Luke Skywalker against the Evil Empire.

WEAVER: Over a couple of bottles of wine, we kind of concocted the Straight Talk Express thinking that he could handle sitting in the back of the bus with reporters all day long in a way to get our message out.

MCCAIN: My message of reform.

WEAVER: He thrived in it and he captivated the nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Especially New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain according to CNN exit polling wins the New Hampshire primary easily.

WEAVER: John turns to me and we kind of look at each other and he goes, "You know the pianos are going to start dropping on us now," and he was right.

MCCAIN: This campaign for us will be won or lost in South Carolina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain's opponent started to play dirty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Turn on the radio, turn on the television; unfortunately, they'll pick up telephone and you'll hear a negative attack against John McCain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: One attack claimed McCain fathered a black child out of wedlock. In reality, McCain's daughter Bridget was adopted from Bangladesh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: There's really not much you can do except to condemn it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The gutter politics had a major impact on McCain. He lost the 2000 primary and vowed to avoid personal attacks in his future races.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON: I knew how painful it had been for him with attacks on his family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Hillary Clinton became a senator not long after McCain's 2000 presidential loss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: He obviously at that time was coming off a particularly vicious and brutal and personal campaign, especially for his family. You know a thing or two about that.

H. CLINTON: I do. He was truly just soldiering on. It wasn't like we sat down and just poured forth our feelings, but we basically said, "Look, this is not the way politics should be conducted."

DASCHLE: He had to show his resilience all over again to himself more than to his colleagues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And he did, digging in on issues from campaign finance reform to the Patient's Bill of Rights with senators from both parties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please join me in welcoming John McCain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: By 2008 ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Today, I announce my candidacy for President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain was ready to mount another presidential run to succeed the Republican President who beat him in 2000.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: He started out as air parent and then crashed and burned big time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: GOP voters did not like his support for a surge of US troops in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We need 100,000 additional troops.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And they bristled at his bipartisan work on immigration reform. He almost ran out of money and let most of his staff go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It was you and John McCain.

BUCHANAN: Yes. No big entourage.

BASH: No private plane.

BUCHANAN: No. Sometimes, I even drove the van.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain climbed his way back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The Mack is back.

BASH: Are you the front-runner now?

MCCAIN: I think we're doing well. I'm optimistic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: To get there, he did swallow some principle and played politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We will secure the borders first when I am president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain seized the GOP nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We sure showed them what a comeback looks like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And thought he'd be facing his old friend, Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H. CLINTON: I think we both thought that. I thought it would have been a great campaign because we both respected each other, we'd worked with each other.

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BASH: Instead, it was Barack Obama. His first big decision, his running mate.

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MCCAIN: Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.

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BASH: Sarah Palin was a surprising and bold decision. She drew the conservative support he was sorely lacking.

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WEAVER: It's not who he wanted to choose.

LIEBERMAN: He told me he wanted to put my name on the list that he vetted for Vice President. Are you serious? He said, "I am." I said, "You don't have to do that. I don't know how you can do it as a matter of fact."

BASH: You're not a Republican.

LIEBERMAN: I'm not a Republican. No, I'm very serious about it. And so I said, "Okay, okay."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:45:16]

BASH: His first choice, close friend and Democrat turned independent Senator Joe Lieberman.

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LIEBERMAN: We clung to it a long time even after people in the party were telling him that there would be a walkout of like a third of the Republican delegates because of some of my liberal domestic positions.

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BASH: McCain later admitted regretting not picking Lieberman, but always defended Palin.

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MCCAIN: The treatment that she received was still the worst that I've ever seen any politician received.

BUCHANAN: He's loyal to a fault and that was his decision.

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BASH: It was also his decision to not let his campaign turn ugly like in 2000. It came to a hit at a town hall a month before election day.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. He's an Arab. No?

MCCAIN: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.

H. CLINTON: You know, John believes so deeply in fundamental fairness, but if he thinks you're being unfairly treated or maligned, he's going to be right there defending you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Still, it was a contentious race.

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WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN: The Dow Jones Industrials nose diving.

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BASH: When the economy collapsed in September 2008, Obama pulled ahead and never looked back.

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MCCAIN: I'm doing just fine. I have been written off, Dana, on so many occasions by political pundits that it's hard for me to count.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: But in the end, the voters counted him out.

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BLITZER: Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States.

MCCAIN: I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him. Please.

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BASH: True to form, McCain marked the moment's history for the country.

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MCCAIN: A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

GRAHAM: What a moment and John rose to the occasion and said he is my president now.

MCCAIN: And I pledge to him tonight ...

BASH: Did you study his concession speech when you had to give yours?

H. CLINTON: I did think about it. I tried to speak in a way that would create the same sort of reaction, even from people who were incredibly upset about what happened, didn't know what happened, couldn't figure it out.

MCCAIN: Americans never quit. We never surrender.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Never quit, never surrender, even as he faces the toughest times to come. That when we come back.

[22:50:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN : My time might be passing, but I'll be grateful for what remains so that I can watch America come ever closer to the ideal she was always intended to be and that I might yet become the man I always wanted to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: It was the morning after John McCain lost his 2008 run for president.

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BUCHANAN: I was sitting there wallowing in the loss, and he told me to pull on my bootstraps and get going. He said, "Go grab your coffee, we've got calls to make."

BASH: How much of that is, John McCain will not stop moving?

BUCHANAN: He's like a shark, which keeps him who he is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: McCain raced back to the Senate. No entourage, no security, no time to waste.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I don't have any comment today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And true to form, McCain sparred with the new president.

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MCCAIN: This president and this administration, has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover up.

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BASH: But he also worked with Obama, becoming the president's go-to guy on immigration, confirming nominees, and even heading to Egypt at the President's request.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: In 2008, did you ever think that you would be President Obama's Republican deal maker?

MCCAIN: No, because I thought I would beat him. No, but I worked on a lot of issues with President Clinton, as well as a Republican president. So it's not as if I haven't done this before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: And like before, it made McCain especially unpopular with the conservative base of his party.

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J.D. HAYWORTH, AMERICAN FORMER POLITICIAN: You could say there are two John McCains. The one who campaigns like a conservative and the one who legislates like a liberal.

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BASH: In 2010, conservative J.D. Hayworth gave McCain his toughest senate challenge ever. Vulnerable in the GOP primary, McCain tacked right. He stopped talking compromise on immigration, putting principle aside and playing to the Republican base he needed to win his primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: And complete the dang fence. It will work this time.

DASCHLE: As a tradeoff.

BASH: Even John McCain is not immune to saying what you needed to say to get elected. DASCHLE: That's right. We all do it.

WEAVER: I'm glad he made the choice that he made. I mean, we're in a dark time in this country and he is one of only a handful of beacons of light who are standing against threats to our base of democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:55:12]

BASH: McCain won his Senate seat back for a fifth term and returned as the elder statesman.

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MCCAIN: We're here to vote. We're not here to block things.

COONS: He really values bipartisanship and he's invested the time in getting to know lots of senators, very junior and very senior, and in building relationships.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain's bipartisan bonding and mentoring senators was done mostly on the road, especially while traveling abroad.

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H. CLINTON: Well, our most famous experience with vodka shots was in Tallinn, Estonia.

BASH: And I've heard or I've seen reported that it was your idea.

H. CLINTON: Oh, I would not take credit for it. I think it was a mutually agreed-upon venture. But we used to say what happens in Tallinn stays in Tallinn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Still, McCain globe-trotting is serious business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: He has a rule, you can't have lunch and dinner in the same continent. I mean, John travels a lot to stay relevant and be able to come back and translate the world.

H. CLINTON: Traveling with John was great, because if a door didn't open, he just started banging on it until it fell. So if we wanted to see somebody and the Ambassador or the General didn't want us to see that person, I can guarantee you, after John was done making the case, we would see them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: After President Trump was elected, McCain took it upon himself to reassure world leaders.

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MCCAIN: In many respects, this administration is in disarray and they've got a lot of work to do.

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BASH: Traveling to 26 countries and four continents in the first half of 2017 alone. Including Asia, in particular Vietnam. Over the years, McCain visited where he was held as a POW dozens of times.

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COONS: It was wonderfully inspiring to see him in a place where he made such a sacrifice for our country in a conflict that was so violent and so challenging, yet today he is so respected.

KLOBUCHAR: He seems to know everyone all over the world. He is one that looks at America and its role in the world and doesn't see it limited to one place or what's convenient or what works at home. He is doing this for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: One of his last international trips was in the summer of 2017, just a month later at a routine checkup, doctors diagnosed McCain with brain cancer. Average survival time, 14 months.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIEBERMAN: So, I said, those are averages, you're not average. I said, let me put it another way, John, everybody knows you're abnormal, so we're counting on your abnormalcy.

BASH: I'm sure he appreciated that.

LIEBERMAN: He did, he did.

GRAHAM: He has called me three times this morning, "No more woe is me, Lindsey," he is yelling at me and to buck up. And so I'm going to buck up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: McCain paraphrased his hero Teddy Roosevelt's approach to mortality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: There's two ways of looking at these things, and one of them is to celebrate. I am able to celebrate a wonderful life and I will be grateful for additional time that I have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Additional time to fight harder than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country with all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, we are blessed.

H. CLINTON: Can he be curmudgeonly? Can he be tough? He can be all of that, but he was first a warrior, raised in a family that has defended our country for generations and he is a patriot, regardless of party, he is a patriot and I am honored that he's also my friend.

GRAHAM: He is loyal to his friends. He loves his country and if he has to stand up for this party for his country, so be it. He would die for this country. I would love him to death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: A leader who once struggled to live up to his storied family legacy yet earned his own unique place in American history. Driven by three words - duty, honor, and country.