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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Remembering the Life and Legacy of Sen. John McCain. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired August 26, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] SIDNEY MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: My dad called me and told me, I'm going to run for president. I just wanted to give you the heads up. And I was like, great, and inside I'm like oh, no. It's -- I was very happy for him. And I think you could kind of see it coming that that was going to be his calling.
JOHN MCCAIN III, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: America doesn't owe me anything. I am the son and grandsons of navy admirals, and I was born into America's service. It wasn't until I was deprived of her company that I fell in love with America and it has been my honor to serve her and her great cause -- freedom.It is because I owe America more than she has ever owed me that I am a candidate for president of the United States.
RICK DAVIS, PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: In the run-up to the 2000 campaign, there were lots of candidates. And, of course, the one person that sort of stood over top of that entire field, you know, was George W. Bush.
JOHN MCCAIN III: We started out, a decided underdog. We thought that the best way to campaign was to have total access to the media. That's what the straight talk express was all about.
DAVIS: He wanted to do politics a different way. We had modeled the campaign on being completely transparent. And every day, 18 hours a day, John McCain would be surrounded by the press corps that was covering him in the back of that bus, holding forth on every issue that was on the table.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I'm against gun registration. And so --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Why?
JOHN MCCAIN III: Because I don't think it's necessary in America. But, obviously, as I've said before, we would be glad to examine proposals.
DAVIS: So the bus was this freewheeling exercise in public discourse. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Let's do a lightning round.
JOHN MCCAIN III: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Your favorite book?
JOHN MCCAIN III: For whom the bell tolls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Favorite movie.
JOHN MCCAIN III: "Give us a Planet."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Charlie Hesse?
JOHN MCCAIN III: Marlon Brando.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Close enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Senator, how do you reconcile the fact that you were one of the most vocal critics of pork barrel politics, and yet while you were chairman of the Congress committee, that committee set a record for unauthorized appropriations.
I was just kidding. No, I don't even know what that means.
DAVIS: The 2000 presidential campaign was the most fun I've ever had as a political journalist. Everything was transparent so we got to see absolutely everything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, now, what secret plan number is he? 27.
DAVIS: To those rides, the way to get McCain talking was to find somebody he didn't like, and just remind him of it. And so you get it like 6:00 in the morning, senator, did you see what Rick Santorum said? Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And then he'd go off. And his tooth -- his mouth would just go and he'd talk and talk and talk, and who he didn't like, who he did like, and it was great.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he says the odds are long. But to someone who survived years of torture in solitary confinement, nothing seems impossible.
JOHN MCCAIN III: Some people have asked why I'm running for president of the United States. My wife says it's because I receive several sharp blows to the head while I was in prison.
BASH: Is there a whispering campaign against John McCain? Absolutely not, say the senators accused of spreading rumors that the Arizona senator returned from captivity in Vietnam too unstable to be trusted with the presidency.But McCain's friend, Democrat John Kerry said he's heard the whispers.
JOHN KERRY, FORMER SENATOR: Tacky, tawdry, petty.
It was very important for us to stand up for the truth, for the reality of what was being done here.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER SENATOR: I picked up the phone and called him, I said, John, where do you want me? Where do you want me? I will testify to your character before anyone in the country. You just tell me, pal. And he started laughing. He said, well, you'd hurt me more than you'd help, Joe, by testifying.
JOHN MCCAIN III: It was a failing of mind that I was short-tempered. Part of it is, I am in some ways a perfectionist, and I want people around me to be that way and so when they're not, I get angry about it.
Why would you say something that stupid? Why would you ask something that dumb?
MEGHAN MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: I remember one time going into his office and walking in and he was screaming at someone. And I was like, oh, my God, dad talks like that?
LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. SENATOR: You can be asshole one minute and your dearest friend the next, but the thing about him is that you know he loves you.
[22:05:08] BASH: McCain thinks the release of his medical records has put to rest speculation that his years in prison camp made him unstable. In fact, some voters like hearing about his explosive temper.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd rather have a man as a commander-in-chief with a little bit of temper than a wuss in office.
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was kind of the presumptive heir to the nomination. I never ran scared I was going to lose. But I knew John would be a tough competitor.
DAVIS: Nobody was supposed to beat George W. Bush. But if you could actually beat him in a primary, it could create enormous momentum. So the whole idea was just win in New Hampshire and start the campaign basically from there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had these town halls everywhere, where he took any questions, and they let him go for as long as people wanted to ask him questions.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I will do as we have been doing all over the state of New Hampshire, and that is to respond to your questions, comments and occasional insults that you might have.
CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE: New Hampshire is all about retail politics. They want to see you. Not just once, but two or three times. They want to touch you. They want to ask you questions. And John's really good at that. And he likes it. He loves it.
JOHN MCCAIN III: And I'd like to introduce our four children -- Meghan, Jack, Jimmy and Bridget McCain who are here.
M. MCCAIN: I was a freshman in high school, and I just remember that all of a sudden he was super famous.
MARK SALTER, JOHN MCCAIN'S STAFF AIDE AND SPEECHWRITER: We were getting a lot of coverage and that was drawing crowds to the town halls and they were getting bigger and bigger and bigger and spilling out into the streets and you could just sense something was happening.
Last one we did was in Bedford, New Hampshire. And I went upstairs and gave him the exit polls. And he was in the bedroom rehearsing his speech. I said, we got the exit polls. And he said, what are they? I said, you're going to win? He said, oh, yeah, how much? You're going to clobber. Well, that has implications. I said, yeah, like, you could be president. It has that implication.
M. MCCAIN: I remember just the hotel going crazy. Just people everywhere, crying and screaming on this elation. You can whip George Bush's ass.
JOHN MCCAIN III: My friends, in the weeks and months ahead, I may say things you want to hear and I may say things you don't want to hear. But you will always -- you will always hear the truth from me, no matter what.
BUSH: Well, first of all, I was surprised. I thought I was going to whip him. Of course, he thought he was going to whip me. It was a turning point for me because, he outworked me and he had a better message for New Hampshire. And so I told my team, look, let's view this as a blessing, not a defeat. And for that I'm thankful because I needed to show people I could get off the mat.
JOHN MCCAIN III: Michael, wait a minute, Michael, I will be glad to -- I will be glad to examine that proposal. But i also hope --
DAVIS: Everybody knew in the Bush campaign and the McCain campaign that whoever came out of South Carolina was likely to be the nominee of the party.
BUSH: I'm glad to be back down here. I want you to know, loud and clear, we're going into battle.
DAVIS: New Hampshire's campaign was basically void of a lot of negative campaigning. By the time we got to South Carolina, it was bare knuckle politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is George Bush's ad promising America he'd run a positive campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: We were running negative ads against George Bush. George Bush was running negative ads against John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Bush's tax plan isn't true and McCain knows it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: It was the fight of the century.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The war of words between George W. Bush and John McCain is heating up even further as they battle for votes in South Carolina. McCain is accusing the Bush campaign of making misleading phone calls to voters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Governor George W. Bush still denies that anyone in his campaign is making negative phone calls. But McCain's supporters are now pointing to a conversation videotaped on Saturday between Governor Bush and a supporter in South Carolina. They claim it shows the governor promising more negative attacks on McCain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all haven't even hit his soft spot?
BUSH: I'm going to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to be. Somebody needs to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCCAIN III: The phone calls went out all over South Carolina, do you know the McCains have a black baby?
[22:10:00] SALTER: John and Cindy had adopted from one of Mother Teresa's orphanages in Bangladesh, a baby daughter, a person of color, and people were getting calls saying that she was his illegitimate daughter from a relationship with an African-American prostitute.
M. MCCAIN: I just remember it getting really dark really fast. It's like last time it was truly innocent in politics before that happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: In South Carolina, proof that negative campaigning works.
McCain's supporters dropped ten points in less than two weeks. The McCain town hall meeting on Thursday, Donna Durham (ph) described how her son idolized the former Navy pilot and PWO.
So the 14-year-old boy scout answered a phone call, allegedly, from a Bush pollster.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was so upset when he came upstairs and he said, mom, someone told me that Senator McCain is a cheat and a liar and a fraud. And he was almost in tears.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying that Governor Bush was responsible for that call?
JOHN MCCAIN III: I don't know who was responsible for it, but I know that the attacks go on.
BUSH: He accused me of dirty campaigning, and I pulled out some flier and it said paid for by John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This is an attack piece.
BUSH: This is not by my campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: It says paid for by John McCain.
BUSH: This is not by my campaign.
BUSH: Somebody is putting stuff out.
DAVIS: It was getting bad. And he says, look, I want to take off all the negative campaign ads. I want to go positive. And I said, well, what do you mean? Take off the negative campaign ads. We're in a slug fest of our lives. This is, you know, battle to the death. And he said, nope, I want to run a campaign that my daughter will be proud of. I'd rather lose an honorable campaign than win a dishonourable one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Senator McCain and Governor Bush are running neck and neck in South Carolina with the primary there now only eight days away. On the most divisive issue in South Carolina, the confederate flag at the top of the state capital, both candidates have staked out a position of calculated ambiguity.
DAVIS: When you roll into a state like South Carolina, you're going to get asked every single day by state reporters, what do you think about the issue of taking down the confederate flag? And so we worked out some wording. We said, well, it's a state issue, it's not what we want to get into. You know, it was a symbol of heritage. When we sat down and talked to John McCain about it, he's like, you know, that's bullshit.
SALTER: He argued with it, was angry about it. He crumpled it up at one point and stuffed it in his pocket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you clarify what your position on the confederate flag?
JOHN MCCAIN III: I've already done that. I've already done that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you clarify it?
JOHN MCCAIN III: I've already done it. I've already done it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Can you tell me what that is? JOHN MCCAIN III: Yes, I'll give you the piece of paper.
I understand both sides, some view it as a symbol of slavery, others view it as a symbol of heritage. Personally, I see the battle flag as a symbol of heritage.
DAVIS: It was one of the very few instances where we didn't follow our instincts, rather than following the polling data. The only bad period of the campaign is when we did something out of political expediency rather than just telling the truth. And we lost.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: John McCain, the maverick who brought the Republican establishment with dramatic wins in New Hampshire and Michigan, today chose an equally dramatic setting to halt his campaign.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I am no longer an active candidate for my party's nomination for president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: McCain says he will now go back to the Senate. His presidential bus ride over, but he vows his crusade will go on.
DAVID BROOKS, THE NEW YORK TIMES JOURNALIST: I would say he's one of the few politicians I've ever covered who has an authentic inner voice. Even when he does things that are not great, embracing the confederate flag when running in South Carolina, he knows he's not doing something great. Most politicians I cover, they rationalize it to themselves and so there's no honest interior voice there. McCain has never been able to lie to himself very well. And so, even when he compromises for political reasons, he knows he's compromising some piece of himself. And I think there's some piece of himself that feels pretty bad about it.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I promised to tell the truth always about my intentions and my beliefs. I fell short of that standard in South Carolina. And I want to tell the people of South Carolina and all Americans that I sincerely regret breaking my promise to always tell you the truth.
I was asked during the course of my campaign how I personally felt about the confederate battle flag that flies above your state capital. I answered that it was an issue that the people of South Carolina could decide for themselves.
I did not answer the question I was asked, how did I personally feel about the flag? My ancestors fought for the confederacy. And I am sure that many, maybe all of them fought with courage and with faith that they were serving a cause greater than themselves.
[22:15:00] But I don't believe their service, however distinguished, needs to be commemorated in a way that offends, that deeply hurts people whose ancestors were once denied their freedom by my ancestors. That, my friends, is how I personally feel about the confederate battle flag. I should have done this earlier. I did not do so for one reason alone. I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary. So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth. I'm not so naive to believe that politics must never involve compromise. But I was raised to know that I should never sacrifice a principle for personal ambition.
BROOKS: He grew up with a moral code. And it was a code that preached honor and glory, sacrifice for country. We all have the one virtue we aspire to most. For McCain, it's courage. And courage comes in many forms, the kind he displayed in Vietnam, but also intellectual courage and moral courage in politics.
DAVIS: Even though we lost in 2000, he was able to go back to the United States Senate, a much more powerful individual than when he started that campaign.
JOHN MCCAIN III: The best cure for losing is get to work, get busy. That's the only way to get over this.
Yes, we had some fun. How you doing?
So I redoubled my efforts and my energies --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The battle over campaign finance reform was poised to play out on the Senate floor this week, but it's also shaping up to be a fight between George Bush and his former rival Senator John McCain.
JOHN MCCAIN III: Chances are better than they've ever been before.
Two years ago, no one gave us a chance.
Every special interest in this town that uses money in order to buy access and influence is apoplectic about the prospect of losing that influence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And a major victory tonight for Senator John McCain and his crusade to clean up campaign financing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yays are 59, the nays are 41 and the bill as amended is passed.
SALTER: When you work on the Senate staff and you had a big accomplishment or something, say a McCain-Feingold passes, then the next day it's done. You know, what else? What else is what he's always saying to you. What else can you tell me? Tell me something else. He's wired differently from other people that way.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SENATOR: He is the perpetual motion machine, and traveling with him requires you to keep up with him. When he said I want to go and study climate change, I want to see for myself what I'm reading about, I jumped on board. And when we were on these trips together, he really zeroed in. Well, how did this happen? Tell me a specific story. What did that mean to you? And he listened to people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You read in the paper, 500 protesters killed in blank stand.
John says, let's go. And we met with dissidents, and John spoke up on their behalf, and thank God we got out of there.
SALTER: He believes that human rights are the birth right of all and we ought to speak up for people that are being deprived.
I have a daughter in the Peace Corps in Cambodia. And a Cambodian said, you know, we need more influence from the United States. You know, John McCain, he's -- he will try to help us. There's just some random guy. Some random guy in a rural province, in a third world country, knows who he is, knows he'll fight for him.
[22:23:15] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: U.S. Senator John McCain has returned to the infamous prison known as the Hanoi Hilton.
JOHN MCCAIN III: A single light bulb that hangs in. You know, loudspeakers in your cell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: McCain was accompanied by his son, Jack. He was diplomatic about what he's seen.
JACK MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S SON: It hasn't upset me because my dad hasn't ever said anything negative towards this thing. It's just where he was kept.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you think you could have stayed there like he did?
JACK MCCAIN: I don't think so. He's a lot stronger of a person than I am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, that's good, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you ask him about his experiences, he will tell you, but it's a short, frank, OK, well, what was it like? Well, it wasn't great. What did they feed you? Well, they fed me cabbage soup.
JOHN MCCAIN III: It's nice to be back. I've been here -- again, on many occasions. It's always nice to check on the condition of my statue. It's the only one I've got.
C. MCCAIN: It was important for John to show Jack what had happened. Because there were several lessons in that, not just what happened to him, but what happened as a result of this occasionally mismanaged war. JOHN MCCAIN III: Not everything I base my views on is about Vietnam. But one heck of a lot of it is. With the experience of Vietnam, I always have a template which to judge whether we have a strategy for success.
[22:25:00] In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the strategy was, don't lose. If the strategy is don't lose, then you don't win.
SALTER: He is a passionate believer in an exceptional America that embodies its ideals, protects him at home, and advances them abroad. That, he thinks, is the greatest cause anyone can serve.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: American leadership in the world, John, I think, recognizes, is not just a matter of us having the biggest Air Force, or the mightiest ships or the latest weaponry, it has to do with people thinking we're more likely than not to do the right thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a picture of an Iraqi prisoner of war. And according to the U.S. Army, Americans did this to him. The army confiscated some 60 pictures of Iraqi prisoners being mistreated.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I'm greatly concerned that many Americans will have the same impulses I did when I saw these pictures and that's to turn away from them. And we risk losing public support for this conflict. As Americans turned away from the Vietnam War, they may turn away from this one unless this issue is quickly resolved with full disclosure so that we can be assured and comforted that something that we never believed could happen will never happen again.
BIDEN: The Bush administration's judgment about what constituted appropriate treatment of a prisoner of war drove John over the edge.
JOHN MCCAIN III: What were the instructions to the guards?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is what the investigation that I've indicated has been undertaken.
JOHN MCCAIN III: Mr. Secretary, that's a very simple, straightforward question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the -- as chief of staff of the army can tell you, the guards are --
BIDEN: The thing John understands better than anyone else is it's not only wrong, it also is damaging. It goes to the essence of what it is to be an American. We are a product of our values.
CLINTON: He was just beside himself with anger and frustration. And with the excuses being given by military and civilian leaders, he wants names and he wants people to be held accountable because he wants to send a signal this is not only unacceptable for what happened in Iraq, this is always unacceptable.
And he was not shy about linking that kind of outrageous dehumanizing behavior with the collapse and the repudiation of American values. JOHN MCCAIN III: My friends, we face formidable challenges. I'm not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them. I'm not the youngest candidate, but I am the most experienced.
I know how to fight, and I know how to make peace. I know who I am, and what I want to do.
DAVIS: He was, I think, legitimately the right man at the right time to lead a nation in a post-9/11 environment. 9/11 had a profound impact not only on the country and security and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also on the American electorate.
Now, that was a wonderful opportunity for Senator McCain who had always been steeped to national security and foreign policy. And I think the early polling demonstrated that. He was significantly in the lead. And, of course, at this time it was John McCain and Hillary Clinton. That was the narrative of the 2008 campaign. Little did we know that narrative would be turned upside down.
OBAMA: I think John had great appeal among independents. John, obviously had the extraordinary biography. He looked the part and had the experience of not just 18 years in the Senate, but having run for president before.
Because you decided the change must come to Washington, because you believe that this year must be different than all the rest, because --
But we weren't really running against John McCain, we were running for a new direction for the country.
BUSH: It's been my honor to welcome my friend, John McCain, as the nominee of the Republican Party. I wish you all the best. I'm glad to be your friend.
GRAHAM: John McCain's running for president, the Iraq war is about as popular as a toothache, and John said, no, we can't leave, we've got to win. And he stood behind President Bush, the surge, adding more troops at a time when everybody wanted to get out.
RICK DAVIS, PRESIDENT CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR: If the 2000 campaign was known as freewheeling, easy access to the media, the 2008 campaign was completely the opposite.
JOHN MCCAIN III, REPUBLICAN SENATOR: OK, guys, we're having fun now.
I wanted to bring the media back on the bus. I wanted them to be there and have the same dialogue we had before. But they get on the bus and then it would be a challenge as who can ask the worst got you question. I remember I got on the bus one time and one of the questions was, what do you think about the economy? And I said, well, you know, I'm working hard on the economy, because that hasn't always been my top priority -- armed services, et cetera, et cetera. The next day in the "New York Times," McCain said he's not familiar with the economy.
Well, you know it, you know it. So I don't even know why you ask.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Well, I asked because I --
JOHN MCCAIN III: No, you do know it. You do know it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: I just wanted to --
JOHN MCCAIN III: I don't know what you meant or heard off and I don't know the circumstances.
DAVID BROOKS, THE NEW YORK TIMES JOURNALIST: Our coverage is annoying, because we're trying to tell the truth as we see it. It's never quite the truth as the candidate and the campaign sees it. So it's just always going to be annoying. And I think if you react to it with hostility, you end up making it worse.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I don't know that it's well-known that I had the conversation. It was absolutely well-known by everyone. So do you have a question on another issue?
I think in 2008, the environment was much more toxic than it was in 2000.
MARK SALTER, JOHN MCCAIN'S STAFF AIDE AND SPEECHWRITER: We were out there doing everything we could to sort of show, hey, this is a different kind of Republican. But it was a change election. The country was deeply unhappy, and Barack Obama was the biggest change on offer, on the face of it, on the face of it.
JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick, instead of the reality of a politician, I say let's compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.
Candidate McCain says he would vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote.
Are you kidding me, folks? The stakes could not be higher because we do know what a Bush -- what a McCain administration would look like. There's a slip.
DAVIS: George Bush was the single least popular sitting president in history. His approval rating was 25 percent. And we were the third term of the Bush administration.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just this morning, Senator McCain said that actually he and President Bush share a common philosophy. That's right, Colorado, I guess that was John McCain finally giving us a little straight talk. JOHN MCCAIN III: Senator Obama wants to run against George Bush, he should have run for president four years ago.
DAVIS: One of the things that was the key to us was to be able to regain the mantle of the maverick. And one of the most critical decisions that John McCain had to make was who was going to be his running mate. And we had a lot of good options, at least we thought we did.
JOE LIEBERMAN, FORMER SENATOR: When Rick Davis called me and said John wanted to put me on the short list for VP, honestly my reaction was, are you kidding?
I think John felt there would be a big message in this, which is this is going to be a bipartisan ticket, unprecedented.
You may ask, what's a Democrat doing here supporting a Republican for president?
BILL MCINTURFF, POLLSTER: John wanted to take Joe Lieberman. They're just sitting around the abstract. That's sort of interesting. But I said, OK, here's like time-out, time-out. Has anyone in this room actually read the Republican National Convention rules? We're going to have a blood bath on the convention floor just to nominate him.
SALTER: He was unhappy with that point of view and resisted it and argued against it and kept maintaining it. But, hey, you can't start off with a general campaign with a convention that's rejection of the vice presidential choice. How are you going to win in November?
JOHN MCCAIN III: I should have said, look, we've got a hell of a campaign anyway. Joe Lieberman is my best friend. We should take him. But I was persuaded by my political advisers that it would be harmful. And that was another mistake that I made.
[22:35:00] My friends and fellow Americans, I am very pleased, very privileged to introduce to you the next vice president of the United States, Governor Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska.
SALTER: She was not chosen because of her position on any particular issue. She had gotten into politics as a reformer.
SARAH PALIN, FORMER MAYOR OF ALASKA: It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.
MEGHAN MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: I understand the choice. It was a gamble. And my dad is a gambler. He always rolled the dice. I think they understood that they had to fight change with change.
DAVIS: That Friday we had erased a 20 point margin. And for two weeks we had a campaign that was winning the presidential election.
PALIN: Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.
BROOKS: Politics is about serving. And you can't serve if you don't win. And he was behind. It was a long shot. So he could justify the pick by saying I had to Hail Mary pass. I had to try something. And I don't think he could have known this at the time, but in picking Sarah Palin, he basically took a disease that was running through the Republican Party. Not Palin herself, she's a normal human being, but a disease that I'll call anti-intellectualism, disrespect for facts, and he put it right to the center of the party. And so she was a chapter in the rise of a cheap kind of populism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to ask you a question. I do not believe in -- I can't trust Obama. I have read about him, and he's not -- he's not -- he's an Arab. He is not --
JOHN MCCAIN III: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No?
JOHN MCCAIN III: 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. Thank you.
OBAMA: You know, the environment in which he was already headed in an uphill battle, where the energy of the party was being captured by his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and it was a much more red meat, populist angry tone. For, John, in the middle of that to say, you know, hold on a second, we don't demonize each other, we're all Americans, we're all on the same team, I thought was an indication of who John fundamentally was.
JOHN MCCAIN III: First of all, I want to be president of the United States, and obviously I do not want Senator Obama to be. But I have to tell you, I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared as president of the United States.
Now, I just -- now, I just -- now, look, if I didn't think I wouldn't be one heck of a lot better president, I wouldn't be running. OK? And that's the point. That's the point.
DAVIS: On September 16th, the entire campaign changed. That was the day the economy collapsed. People were being thrown out of their jobs. We were going through a global upheaval and we were running a presidential campaign right in the middle of it.
SALTER: It was a terrible, toxic environment for anybody that had an "R" next to their name.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John was carrying an 800-pound rock up the hill. I mean, talk about good year, bad year. It was a bad year. JOHN MCCAIN III: My friends, we have -- we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him -- please. To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
OBAMA: He could not have been more gracious. He could not have been more generous about wishing my administration well.
[22:40:00] JOHN MCCAIN III: It's natural tonight to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.
BIDEN: It was gracious. It was futuristic. It was about the country. He was saying, come on now, come on, everybody get in here, man, help this man. I'm going to help him. I'm here. I'm here.
JOHN MCCAIN III: And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe always in the promise and greatness of America because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history. Thank you and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.
SIDNEY MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S DAUGHTER: My dad's calling is to make America a better place. And my father's very conservative. I am not. I'm very liberal. But we still manage to meet on some issues that are important to both of us. So his heart is to make a better country. His heart is what he believes in. He's not doing this to be self- serving, he's doing it because he truly believes that the country needs him.
CAROL MCCAIN, JOHN MCCAIN'S FORMER WIFE: A lot of people tried to get me to say bad things about him during that time. And I was like, are you crazy? I would never do that. You don't know me or you wouldn't ask me. I mean, I loved the man. I would never do anything to harm him in any way. I'm very sad that he's going to be leaving us in the next year. It's heart-breaking. It's not fair.
[22:45:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The office of Senator John McCain has announced tonight that the Arizona senator has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The 80-year-old Republican from Arizona has the same type of cancer that took the life of Senator Ted Kennedy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Survival is somewhere between 14 and 15 months. That said, people with a fighting attitude such as Senator McCain tend to do better.
CINDY MCCAIN: I suspected something because there were just little things that were telling me things something wasn't right with him.
JOHN MCCAIN III: Well, at least in the minds of this member, there's a whole lot of questions remaining.
SALTER: He was complaining of being very tired. And he'd gotten wrapped around the axle on a question to FBI -- then FBI Director Comey in a hearing.
JOHN MCCAIN III: You're going to have to help me out here. In other words, we were to complete the investigation of anything that former Secretary Clinton had to do with the campaign is over and we don't have to worry about it anymore.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: With respect to secretary -- I'm a little confused, senator. With respect to Secretary Clinton --
CINDY MCCAIN: He had a physical coming up and we made sure the schedule was such it couldn't be pushed. It couldn't be because we thought, he needs to be looked at.
DAVIS: I'm in the middle of lunch and I get a call from Senator McCain. He was in the car driving to Sedona. And in a very nonchalant way, he says, you know, I had my checkup today, and he said they just called me and told me to turn my car around and come back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: 80-year-old Senator John McCain is resting comfortably at home after surgeons successfully removed a small blood clot above his left eye yesterday at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix. Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will defer a vote on the health care bill until Senator McCain returns.
DAVIS: He walked out of the hospital the day after brain surgery. But he felt fine. Now, did he feel fine or did he convince you that he felt fine?
Here's a guy who's gone through enormous physical challenges early in his life. His knees are all busted up, but he outwalks everybody who ever tries to do a campaign event with him. His shoulders don't function properly. He can't comb his own hair but he gets by through the day looking just fine.
SALTER: He called me, and he goes, look, I want to give this speech, you know, about the health care vote that's coming up. I said, OK. Have they got the results back? Yes, I've got -- yes, it's not great.
BIDEN: The measure of the man is how he responds under significant adversity. And look at John, look at him, I mean, he's a -- he's a good friend.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: Listen, I have to go back to the health care bill. And I said what could possibly happen if he gets on a plane? And the doctor said that he could like hemorrhage and it can be dangerous if he still has air in his brain and all this crazy stuff. So I freaked out, and I screamed at everyone that he couldn't get on the plane and that I didn't agree with it. And my dad snapped at me and said it's my life and it's my choice.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I stand here today looking a little worse for wear, and I'm sure -- I've been a member of the United States Senate for 30 years. My service here is the most important job I've had in my life.
BROOKS: His public service has been so deeply entwined with friendships. And a lot of the friendships have been with Democrats -- Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden. And so out of that sense of friendship came a belief that party was not everything, and out of that came a direct experience with crafting compromised legislation.
[22:50:00] JOHN MCCAIN III: Let's trust each other. Let's return to regular order. We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That's an approach that's been employed by both sides mandating legislation from the top down without any support from the other side with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires. We're getting nothing done, my friends. We're getting nothing done.
LIEBERMAN: He decries the partisanship, the ideological rigidity, the refusal to work together and get something done for the people who were good enough to send members of Congress to Congress.
JOHN MCCAIN III: We tried to do this by coming up with a proposal behind closed doors and consultation with the administration and springing it on skeptical members trying to convince them that it's better than nothing. That it's better than nothing?
BIDEN: I think the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats know better. They got to start to stand up. And John would say get back to regular order.
All regular order means is you introduce a bill, you have hearings and let the public see what is going on. You show the press, you have witnesses, you have amendments and you make up your mind. That's how democracy is supposed to work.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I will not vote for this bill as it is today.
LIEBERMAN: I think the Republicans felt that he had marshalled all his physical strength to come back after the surgery and that naturally, he would vote with the Republican Party. But they totally misread John. He came back for a different reason. He came back to do the right thing and to send a message to his colleagues and to the country.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I'll be here for a few days. After that, I'm going home for a while to treat my illness. I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me. And I hope to impress on you again that it is an honor to serve the American people in your company.
Thank you, fellow senators.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
DAVIS: It's hard not to be proud of John McCain, right? He takes chances that nobody else takes. Both with his health, you know, to get on a plane and go to Washington to have an impact. He takes chances with his message, you know, to tell people what they probably need to hear but don't ever want to hear, and he does it all because of his insatiable desire to have an impact for the positive. That's hard not to be respectful of that guy.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I saw things that I didn't agree with, that I thought was wrong.
The American people don't hold Washington and the people who work there in very high esteem. We need to make sure that we give the American people what they deserve and right now, they are not getting it.
I know that this was a very vicious disease. I greet every day with gratitude, and I will continue to do everything that I can, but I'm also very aware that none of us live forever.
I'm confident and I'm happy and I'm very grateful for the life I've been able to lead, and I greet the future with joy. My grandfather loved his life and he loved the fact that he had to leave. My father, the same way. I am the same way. I love life and I want to stay around forever, but I also believe that there is great honor that you can die with.
[22:55:00] By the way, I re-read Hemingway, and Robert Jordan is still my hero. And Robert Jordan's last thoughts were it's been a great life and well worth fighting for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hero is somebody who does the right thing no matter what. And I think John throughout his life has been heroic so many times. So we shouldn't be surprised that as he faces this at the end of his life that he's still heroic and that if he showed us how to live, he's also -- he's also showing us how to die.
JOHN MCCAIN III: I've had the good fortune to spend 60 years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I've tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I've been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.
To fear the world we have organized and led the three quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to retain the last best hope of earth for the sake of some half-baked spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems...
...is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. With all it's suffering and danger, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become another better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve?
CNN ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN's special report.
JOHN MCCAIN III: 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 our moments. Often, they arrive unbidden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: It is decision day for the Republican- led Senate. The stakes are so high.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Today, an emotional return to Capitol Hill. Senator John McCain coming back for a crucial health care vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: 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, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Washington and the country united in prayers and well wishes for Senator John McCain.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an aggressive brain cancer. If you look at numbers alone, the average survival is around 14 months.