Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) died Saturday at 81, his family said in a statement.
McCain was diagnosed with gliobastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, last summer, and his family announced Friday he had decided to discontinue medical treatment because "the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict."
McCain had represented Arizona in the Senate since 1987. Before holding elected office, he was a captain in the U.S. Navy and earned a Purple Heart for his service in the Vietnam War, where he spent five years as a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton after being captured in 1967.
As a lawmaker, McCain was a conservative with unapologetically hawkish foreign policy views. He first rose to national prominence with his failed bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, for which he traveled the country in a bus nicknamed the "Straight Talk Express." He eventually triumphed in 2008, becoming his party's presidential nominee and running against then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). McCain lost to Obama, but his stringent refusal to bow to racist rhetoric has been lauded over the last decade as a rare decent moment in politics.
McCain was also famous for his "maverick streak," perhaps best epitomized by his arrival on the Senate floor amid cancer treatment in 2017 to cast a decisive vote against his own party's health-care bill, which would have undone Obama's signature Affordable Care Act. In his memoir released earlier this year, McCain wrote that Obama called to thank him for his vote.
"I have had the most fortunate life of anybody you will ever talk to," McCain said in an interview reflecting on his years last October, "and I have nothing but gratitude — gratitude and joy, because I've had the most fortunate life that anybody has ever had." Bonnie Kristian