John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was an American politician and military officer who served as a United States senator from Arizona from January 1987 until his death. He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was the Republican nominee for president of the United States in the 2008 election, which he lost to Barack Obama.
McCain graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1958 and received a commission in the United States Navy. He became a naval aviator and flew ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he almost died in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While on a bombing mission during Operation Rolling Thunder over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. He experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early release. During the war, he sustained wounds that left him with lifelong physical disabilities. He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics.
In 1982, McCain was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served two terms. He entered the U.S. Senate in 1987 and easily won reelection five times. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain also had a reputation as a maverick for his willingness to break from his party on certain issues. His supportive stances on LGBT rights, gun regulations, and campaign finance reform were significantly more liberal than those of the partys base. McCain was investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as one of the Keating Five; he then made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually resulted in passage of the McCain–Feingold Act in 2002. He was also known for his work in the 1990s to restore diplomatic relations with Vietnam. McCain chaired the Senate Commerce Committee and opposed pork barrel spending. He belonged to the bipartisan Gang of 14, which played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.
McCain entered the race for the Republican nomination for president in 2000, but lost a heated primary season contest to Governor George W. Bush of Texas. He secured the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, but lost the general election. McCain subsequently adopted more orthodox conservative stances and attitudes and largely opposed actions of the Obama administration, especially with regard to foreign policy matters. In 2015, he became Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He refused to support then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2016. While McCain opposed the Affordable Care Act, he cast the deciding vote against the ACA-repealing American Health Care Act of 2017.
After being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017, McCain reduced his role in the Senate in order to focus on treatment. He died on August 25, 2018, four days before his 82nd birthday. Following his death, McCain lay in state in the Arizona State Capitol rotunda and then in the United States Capitol rotunda. His funeral was televised from the Washington National Cathedral, with former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama giving eulogies.