Former presidential candidate John McCain, who represented Arizona for 35 years, dies at 81

5198
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is pictured in a 2008 photo. McCain, whose more than three-decade career in the Senate irreversibly impacted the tenor of Washington, died Aug. 25 at age 81. His body will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol the week of Aug. 27, an honor given to few statesmen. (Brian Snyder/CNS, via Reuters)

Sen. John McCain

Born: Aug. 29, 1936
Service to the United States
  • U.S. Navy, 1958-1981
  • Prisoner of War, 1967-1973
  • U.S. Representative from Arizona’s First District, 1983-87
  • U.S. Senator from Arizona, 1987-2018
  • Republican Party presidential nominee, 2008
Died: Aug. 25, 2018

Memorial Services

  • 2 p.m., Aug. 29
    Lying in state in the Arizona State Capitol Rotunda
    Private ceremony at 10 a.m.
  • 10 a.m., Aug. 30
    North Phoenix Baptist Church
  • 2-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 31
    Lying in state at the U.S. Capitol
    Service at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. AZT)
  • 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. AZT), Sept. 1
    Washington National Cathedral

MORE INFORMATION

U.S. Senator John McCain from Arizona passed away earlier today, Aug. 25. The former 2008 Republican presidential nominee represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate since 1987.

McCain announced publicly last year that he had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma and the prognosis was serious. On Aug. 24 it was announced that he would cease receiving treatment. Raised an Episcopalian, McCain described himself simply as “Christian” and attended North Phoenix Baptist Church.

“John McCain is an American hero who served his country with the utmost admiration in both the Navy and the U.S. Senate. His patriotism and dedicated service will long be remembered for generations to come,” said the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference in a statement released Aug. 27.

“Although he will be remembered by all Americans, we are fortunate as Arizonans that we can call Senator McCain one of our own,” they added.

McCain’s body will lie in state in the Arizona State Capitol Aug. 28 and at U.S. Capitol Aug. 31. A memorial service will be held at North Phoenix Baptist Church Aug. 30 and at Washington National Cathedral Sept. 1. All services will be livestreamed.

“As we approach the upcoming memorial services this week, we will continue to pray for the repose of his soul and that his entire family receive the graces they need in this difficult time,” the bishops said.

McCain was born Aug. 29, 1936 in what was then the Panama Canal Zone, the son and grandson of Navy admirals. McCain followed their footsteps in the Navy. It was during this time that McCain was captured in 1967 and kept as a prisoner of war until 1973.

McCain moved to Phoenix with his wife Cindy in 1981, and the following year was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona’s first congressional district, a position he held until his Senate run four years later.

In 1993, during the confirmation hearings for Joycelyn Elders to be the surgeon general for President Bill Clinton, McCain issued a statement criticizing Elders’ anti-Catholic remarks at a pro-abortion gathering in Arkansas in which she stated, “Look at who’s fighting the pro-choice movement: a celibate, male-dominated Church ….”

“Her implication is that because of their gender and vows of celibacy, Catholic priests are incapable of serving others with understanding and compassion,” McCain wrote. “That view is wrong and grossly unfair.”

In 2000 McCain ran for president for the first time, winning the New Hampshire primary. He would eventually lose to future President George W. Bush but would go on to secure the nomination eight years later.

During the 2008 election, McCain made an effort to reach Catholic voters. His campaign’s Catholic Outreach Coalition hoped to explain to Catholic voters how he was a “stalwart opponent of abortion,” had a “strong appreciation of the social conscience of the world,” and that he supported an immigration policy that “defends the nation’s borders but also is humane in its treatment of illegal immigrants,” according to a Catholic News Agency article published at the time.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., laughs alongside then-New York Cardinal Edward M. Egan and Barack Obama during the 2008 Alfred E. Smith dinner in New York. McCain, whose more than three-decade career in the Senate irreversibly impacted the tenor of Washington, died Aug. 25 at age 81. His body will lie in state in the US Capitol the week of Aug. 27, an honor given to few statesmen. (CNS, pool)

While McCain held generally pro-life views, particularly on the issue of abortion, he differed with the Catholic belief that embryonic stem cell research is immoral. The Catholic Church teaches that embryonic stem cell research is immoral because it relies on the killing of embryos, whereas adult stem cell research is considered acceptable.

When he was asked how he reconciled his otherwise solid pro-life voting record with his support for experimentation on “surplus” embryos, McCain told Catholic News Agency during the campaign his decision to back the research “a very agonizing and tough decision,” saying, “All I can say to you is that I went back and forth, back and forth on it and I came in on one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had, in favor of that research. And one reason being very frankly is those embryos will be either discarded or kept in permanent frozen status.” The senator, while standing firm on his decision added, “I understand how divisive this is among the pro-life community.”

He and his running mate, then Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, lost the general election to future president and vice president Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

During his Senate career, he led many bi-partisan efforts in Congress to improve the nation’s immigration system and had also previously voted for the DREAM Act, which offers a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants that were brought to the United States as minors by their parents. Most recently, he co-sponsored the Senate companion to the USA Act, a bill endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that would have offered a permanent legislative solution for dreamers, secured the border with enhanced technology and reduced the immigration system backlog.

Governor Doug Ducey will appoint somebody to fill McCain’s seat until a special election can be held to determine who will fill the remainder of his term.