John McCain

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Senator John McCain, R-Arizona

John Sidney McCain III (born in the Panama Canal Zone, August 29, 1936) [1] is the senior Senator from the state of Arizona, having served 20 years after replacing Barry Goldwater in 1986. He is currently the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.[2] McCain, a Baptist,[3] has clinched the Republican nomination for President of the United States in the 2008 Election. [4][5]

Though criticized by John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, and the Obama-Daley machine as being a Republican Only in Name, John McCain and the Bush Administration agree on most issues. These include making the Bush tax cuts permanent, continuing the war in Iraq, reforming Social Security, and continuing and expanding Bush's supply-side economic policies. even rated McCain as the second most conservative Senator in the 109th Congress (Jan. 2005 - Jan. 2007).[1]

Early Life

McCain's family has a long history in the U.S. military, with ancestors fighting as army soldiers in the Indian Wars, American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War, and in World War I. Both his father and grandfather were high-ranking United States Navy admirals. In addition, McCain's two son's are currently serving in the U.S. Navy. In 1951, the McCain family moved to Northern Virginia and he attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. McCain was on the wrestling team and went on to graduate in 1954. He later joined the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1958, were he graduated 894 out of 899.

Military career

McCain photographed in 1965

McCain served in the United States Navy from 1958 to 1981. He spent two and a half years as a naval aviator in training at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas. By 1967, McCain was a veteran pilot aboard the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam. On 29 July 1967, while preparing to take off on a bombing run over North Vietnam a missile accidentally fired from another plane, hitting the fuel tanks on McCain's aircraft and triggering explosions and fire. McCain escaped from his plane by crawling onto the nose of the aircraft and diving on to the ship's deck which was ablaze from burning fuel. His attempt to rescue a fellow pilot whose flight suit was on fire was prevented when McCain was blown over by further explosions. When the fire was contained 24 hours later, 134 men had been killed and hundreds more injured. It was called the worst non-combat-related accident in U.S. naval history.[6]

On October 26, 1967, McCain was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam, when his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. He fractured both arms and a leg during the accident, bringing him to unconsciousness. A group of Vietnamese guerrillas quickly surrounded him. After spiting and kicking him, they took him Hoa Loa Prison to became a prisoner of war (POW). They interrogated him to give them information in return for medical care. However, McCain gave them little information such as his name and date of birth. Although he did not receive medical treatment for a long period of time, the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral and they brought in a doctor for medical care. McCain spent six weeks in the Hoa Loa hospital. After that McCain had lost 50 pounds and his hair turned white. He was then sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in December of 1967. In July 1968, McCain's father was named Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), John McCain was offered a chance to return home. However, he turned it down, afraid of being used of propaganda purposes, and wanted to honor the POW "code of conduct, "first in, first out": he would only accept the offer if every man taken in before him was released as well.

The North Vietnamese began to intensely torture McCain, such as frequent beatings and using rope bindings into painful positions, resulting in McCain's teeth and bones to be broken. He was forced to sign and tape an anti-American "confession" that said, in part, "I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died, and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors." McCain would go on to write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine." Two weeks later the Vietnamese tried to force him to sign a second anti-American statement, but this time he refused too. He received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal. Altogether, McCain was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years. He was finally released from captivity on March 15, 1973.


  • Silver Star
  • Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star
  • Purple Heart
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Prisoner of War Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal

Political career


McCain had been working in Phoenix for his father-in-laws company Hensley & Co, which is an Anheuser-Busch beer wholesaler and distributor. After gaining support from local business leaders, he ran for a congressional seat for Arizona's 1st congressional district as a Republican in 1982. His liberal opponents labeled him as a "carpetbagger." McCain responded to a voter making this charge, saying,

"Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi."

With the endorsements of local newspapers, McCain easily won the election. In 1983, he became President of the Republican freshman class of representatives. His voting record generally fell in line with the policy's of President Ronald Reagans. During his four years in congress, McCain and his wife Cindy had three children.


3/3/1987 President Reagan and Nancy Reagan greet John McCain in the Blue Room during a dinner for newly elected members of the 100th Congress

When Republican and conservative icon Barry Goldwater retired from the United States Senate in Arizona in 1986, Congressman McCain announced his candidacy for the seat. He easily won the election, defeating his Democratic opponent Richard Kimball, by 20 percentage points. When entering the Senate, he became a member of the powerful Armed Services Committee, and he also joined the Commerce Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee. During the 1988 Presidential Election, McCain was named chairman of Veterans for Bush. In 1991, Senator McCain became part of the "Keating Five" scandal, were McCain and four other Senators (all Democrats) were accused of improperly aiding Charles H. Keating, Jr., chairman of the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of an investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received approximately $112,000 in political contributions from Charles Keating Jr. After a lengthy investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee determined that McCain was only minimally involved, and McCain (and the four other Senators) were not charged with any crimes.

"Maverick" Image in the Senate

John McCain has gained a reputation as a "maverick" for his sponsorship of many bills and leadership on almost every issue. Starting in 1994, he worked with Democrat Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform. The McCain-Feingold bill banned "soft money." It passed and was signed into law on November 6th, 2002, by President Bush. In the 1990's, McCain gained attention for his strong opposition to pork barrel spending. He championed the 1996 Line Item Veto Act, which gave the President the power to veto individual spending items. However, in 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional.

After George W. Bush was elected President in 2000, McCain began to disagree with the President on many issues, such as tax cuts, climate change, and gun legislation. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, McCain wrote legislation that created the 9/11 Commission, while he and Democrat Senator Fritz Hollings co-sponsored the Aviation and Transportation Security Act that federalized airport security. In May 2005, McCain led the so-called "Gang of 14" in the Senate, which established a compromise that preserved the ability of senators to filibuster judicial nominees, but only in "extraordinary circumstances". McCain also co-sponsored comprehensive immigration reform (see below under political record for details).

2000 Presidential Campaign

McCain launched his first campaign for President in 2000, when he challenged then-Texas Governor George W. Bush for the Republican nomination. McCain's campaign was surprisingly strong, by ignoring the Iowa Caucus, he was able to win the New Hampshire primary by nineteen percentage points. And then won the Michigan Primary. However he went on to lose South Carolina, and 9 out of the 13 Super Tuesday states. McCain withdrew from the race on March 9, 2000.

The following are Senator McCain's political views based on his stated positions and voting record:

Domestic Issues

Balanced Budget

McCain has emphasized reducing government spending over tax cuts. He is one of the Senate's most outspoken critics of pork barrel spending and has pledged to veto any bill with pork as President.


McCain supports school vouchers and charter schools. His voting record shows support for reducing the federal government's role in education. He voted for school vouchers for Washington, D.C., education savings accounts, and against $5billion for grants to local educational agencies. McCain sponsored the Education A-Plus bill in 1997 and again in 1999, which said that parents can open tax-free saving accounts for their children's school supplies. McCain also co-sponsored the Child Nutrition Act, which would provide federal funding for at-risk children. He has publicly stated he supports intelligent design teaching in schools.

Health Care

McCain's record and stated positions on health care is conservative. He is against socialized health care, or health coverage mandates. McCain supports tax credits for personal health savings accounts and enhancing competition in the health care industry to improve quality and lower costs. He also supports allowing citizens to purchase out of state health insurance. In an October 2007 statement, McCain said: "In health care, we believe in enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care. We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs."



McCain supports increasing ethanol imports and more production of hybrid vehicles. He is co-sponsor of a Senate cap-and-trade bill designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions. McCain also supports increasing nuclear power. He has consistently voted against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), because of environmental concerns.


McCain's position on global warming and other environmental issues have put him at odds with conservatives. On January 2007, McCain said, "we continue to learn more about the science of climate change and the dangerous precedence of not addressing this environmental problem. The science tells us that urgent and significant action is needed." On October 30, 2003, he co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act (S.139), which would require the Administrator of the EPA to promulgate regulations to limit the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electricity generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial economic sectors. The bill was defeated in October 2004 by a margin of 43-55. McCain is a member - and was endorsed - by the Republicans for Environmental Protection organization. He has taken some conservative stances on the environment, such as voting to confirm Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior, a vote in favor of preserving the budget for ANWR oil drilling (although he has voted against drilling there), and a vote in favor of reducing funding of renewable and solar energy.


Senator McCain's position on illegal immigration has arguably given him the most criticisms from conservatives. On May 12, 2005, McCain joined Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) as co-sponsor of the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. The bill would legalize and eventually grant citizenship to the estimated 12–20 million illegal aliens in the United States and have them eminently start collecting social security and other government benefits. The bill never came for a vote on the Senate floor. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 are two additional compromises based on the original McCain-Kennedy bill. McCain has consistently voted for visa's for skilled workers. McCain voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and has said border security should be a bigger priority the the illegal aliens who are currently here.


McCain has supported reducing barriers to trade and globalization. He supports the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Social Security

McCain is a strong supporter of private Social Security accounts.

Tax Reform

In 2001, McCain gained attention as one of only two Republicans who voted against President Bush's tax cuts. He opposed accelerating the cuts in 2003, saying, "I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportional amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the deficit (although the budget deficit has gone down since the tax cuts)." He has now changed his stance, by voting to make the tax cuts permanent, and says he would do the same as President. In 2002, Senator McCain was one of only two Republicans to twice vote against the permanent repeal of the Death Tax. He has also refused to sign a pledge put forth by Americans for Tax Freedom not to impose any new taxes or increase existing taxes. However, many of McCain's votes has shown support for lower taxes, such as eliminating the marriage penalty, a 1997 vote to cut capital gains taxes and he introduced measures that would require a sixty-vote majority to pass a tax increase.

Foreign Policy

Homeland Security

An Iraqi Army unit prepares to board a Task Force Baghdad UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for a counterinsurgency mission in Baghdad.

McCain has voted in support of the U.S. PATRIOT Act as well as National Missile Defense. However, he has joined liberal's in support of immediately closing Guantanamo Bay, and moving all the prisoners to Fort Leavenworth. On October 3, 2005, he introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment which prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The bill was passed and signed by President George W. Bush. McCain has recently criticized the practice of water boarding, saying "they [other presidential candidates] should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture." However, McCain still voted against HR 2082, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which included provisions that would have prevented the CIA from water boarding prisoners.


McCain has said that "We continue to be concerned about Iranian influence and assistance to Hezbollah as well as Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons." He tried to ban Iran from playing in the 2006 World Cup, citing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denials.


McCain voted with the majority of the Senate in favor of the 2002 "Iraq War Resolution" authorizing President George W. Bush to go to war against Iraq and overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime. McCain went on to became a critic of the management of the war, arguing that there wasn't enough troop strength in the area. McCain publicly stated that he had "no confidence" in then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. However, he refused to call for his resignation, saying that "the president picks his team, and the president has the right to stay with that team if he wants to." McCain became one of the strongest leading advocates in the Senate for the 2007 troop surge, which increased the number of American troops by 20,500, deployed to the Iraq War to provide security to Baghdad and Al Anbar Province. On February 4, he criticized a non-binding resolution opposing the troop buildup, calling it a "vote of no confidence" in the US military.

Social Issues


A human fetus in the womb

McCain's record in the Senate on abortion is generally pro-life. He voted for the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. McCain is also against government funding of birth control and sex education. However, during his first Presidential campaign for the 2000 election, McCain said the following on Roe v. Wade, "I'd love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations." He has since changed his position, saying Roe v. Wade should be overturned. McCain is a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership and supports embryonic stem cell research.

Gun Control

McCain's record on gun control is mixed. He co-sponsored the Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001, that would reduce gun shows, force gun-owners to purchase trigger locks making their firearms useless for self-defense, and would encourage federal agents to arrest and convict gun-owners who may inadvertently violate one of the many federal gun laws. However, McCain has frequently voted in support of the Second Amendment, such as voting against background checks at gun shows and voting in support of prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers. In August of 1999, McCain said he was open to voting for an assault weapon ban, depending on the details. However, he still voted against the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the efforts to renew it, as well as the Brady Bill.

Same-sex marriage

McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, arguing that the issue of same-sex marriage should be left to the states. However, in 1996, he did vote for a bill that would prohibit same-sex marriage.

2008 Presidential Campaign

Main Article: John McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign McCain began the race as the presumptive front runner and the most formidable of either party, based on his longevity in the Senate and his previous race in 2000. McCain informally stated he would be a candidate for the 2008 Presidential Election on the Late Show with David Letterman on February 28, 2007, and officially announced his candidacy in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, two months later. By a few weeks prior to making his announcement on Letterman, he was beginning to trail behind former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani in the polls. McCain supported the 2007 proposal by President George W. Bush for a "surge", an increase in the number of U.S. troops deployed in the Iraq War. He started a series of campaign events entitled the "No Surrender Tour." His campaign became far more prominent with his wins in the New Hampshire primary and on Super Tuesday, and since Mitt Romney endorsed him was considered a virtual certainty to win the nomination. He finally reached the 1,191 delegates to win the nomination on the Super Tuesday II contests on March 4th. Current polling shows Senator McCain ahead of both Senator Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in head-to-head match ups.

Fundraising in 2007

McCain struggled to raise money for his 2008 presidential campaign, a sign of weakness for a front-runner. "Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney raised $23 million for his presidential campaign in the first three months of [2007], almost doubling the total of top Republican contender John McCain. McCain, an Arizona senator, brought in about $12.5 million in the first quarter, his campaign said. 'We had hoped to do better,' said Terry Nelson, his campaign manager. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he raised $15 million, including more than $10 million in March alone."[7]

However, for all his money and spending, Rudy Giuliani won only one delegate.


He has been called "the Democrats' worst nightmare".[8]

Of the major contenders, only McCain has a background that includes military service. Colonel Bud Day, the United States' most highly decorated officer, and the most decorated since General Douglas MacArthur, said: "Having stood side-by-side with John McCain on the battlefield, I know that he has the character and will to lead this great country. John McCain is the Commander-In-Chief our military needs during this generational struggle against global terrorism."

McCain has the reputation as an independent-minded maverick[9] and favorite of the media.[10] David Limbaugh said, "McCain is not only not conservative enough; he has also built a reputation as a maverick by stabbing his party in the back -- not in furtherance of conservative principles but by betraying them. McCain delights in sticking it to his colleagues while winning accolades from the mainstream liberal media." [11]

John McCain was a member of the Keating Five, a scandal relating to the Savings and Loan Crisis. The Senate Ethics Committee criticized him for "questionable conduct."

John McCain has cancer (melanoma) and has undergone multiple operations for it.[12] Cancer was an issue that hurt the presidential candidacy of Paul Tsongas in 1992. However, it was not even mentioned in the 2004 presidential campaign, despite the fact that John Kerry was treated for prostate cancer in early 2003.

McCain is also known to not like reading from teleprompters, and prefers to speak off-the-cuff from his heart, or from jottings on cocktail napkins or from things he has read on sugar packets.

John McCain is 71 years old, making him one of the oldest candidates to seek the presidency. Several issues relating to McCain's advanced aged and health have been discussed in the media.[13]

Three months later McCain was shot down over Hanoi and held as a Prisoner of War for five-and-a-half years.[14]

On October 26, 1967, during his 23rd air mission, McCain's plane was shot down over the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. His captors soon learned he was the son of a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Navy and repeatedly offered him early release, but McCain refused, ... knowing that the North Vietnamese would use his release as a powerful piece of propaganda.

He eventually spent five and a half years in various prison camps, three and a half of those in solitary confinement, and was repeatedly beaten and tortured before he was finally released, along with other American POWs, in March 1973, two months after the Vietnam cease fire went into effect.

Though McCain had lost most of his physical strength and flexibility, he was determined to continue serving as a naval aviator. After a painful nine months of rehabilitation, he returned to flying duty, but it soon became clear that his injuries had permanently impaired his ability to advance in the Navy.[15]

McCain graduated from the National War College in 1974. Upon his retirement from the Navy in 1981, as a Captain, he had been commended with the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross.[16]

Votes missed

As of August 2007, McCain had missed more votes during the current session of Congress than any Senator other than South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson, who had suffered a brain hemorrhage that had kept him from Congress. He had missed over 48% of his votes. [17] This is due to the fact that he is running for President, and he has to attend political rallies across the country.

Personal life

Cindy McCain

McCain has been married twice. His first marriage, to Carol Shepp, ended in divorce in 1980. His second and current wife is Cindy Lou Hensley.

His son John Sidney IV is a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, and his son James is a non-commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, who is serving in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

McCain's family


Further reading

See Also

External links