John McCain, who endured more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam before becoming the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and serving Arizona for more than 30 years on Capitol Hill, died Saturday at age 81.
McCain died at 4:28 p.m. MST, his office announced. His wife and other family members were with him.
Destined to be remembered among the political giants of Arizona history, the six-term U.S. senator disclosed in July 2017 that he had been diagnosed with a deadly form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.
Meghan McCain, his TV commentator daughter, wrote Saturday on Twitter: “I love you forever – my beloved father.”
McCain was a two-time presidential candidate, losing the GOP nomination in 2000 to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and the general election in 2008 to then-Sen. Barack Obama.
The unsuccessful White House bids were spotlight moments in a long political career that began with his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. After two terms, McCain ascended to the U.S. Senate in 1987, replacing legendary Republican U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, who in 1964 was the only other Arizonan to top the national ticket of a major U.S. political party. McCain was re-elected to the Senate in 1992, 1998, 2004, 2010 and 2016. He became Arizona’s senior senator in 1995 and chairman of the influential Armed Services Committee in 2015.
Often called a maverick, McCain was a complicated personality and will be remembered as the most important political figure to emerge from Arizona in the past 50 years.
He was ensnared by the “Keating Five” scandal of the late 1980s and was deemed by the Senate Ethics Committee to have demonstrated poor judgment by joining four Senate colleagues in meeting with federal thrift regulators on behalf of political benefactor Charles H. Keating Jr., a savings-and-loan tycoon and developer.
It was in the wake of that scandal, in the 1990s and early- to mid-2000s, McCain’s “maverick” reputation began to take shape, as he led fights for campaign finance reform and comprehensive immigration reform and against Big Tobacco. During his 2000 presidential run, McCain famously decried leaders of the Religious Right as “agents of intolerance,” a gutsy fight to pick for a Republican.