John McCain

John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936, in Panama Canal Zone, Panama) is an American Republican politician, currently the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. He was a presidential candidate in the 2000 election, but was defeated by George W. Bush for the Republican nomination. On February 28, 2007, during a guest appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, McCain announced he is seeking the Republican Presidential nomination in the 2008 election, and that he would more formally announce his candidacy in April. He formally announced on April 25, 2007.

Born in Coco Solo in the then American-controlled Panama Canal Zone, the son and grandson of United States Navy Admirals, McCain was educated at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He then served as a naval aviator (holding the rank of Captain), seeing combat in the Vietnam War, and first became a national celebrity after being held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years, from 1967 to 1973.

After his release and return, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives in Arizona's 1st district in 1982 and then to the United States Senate in 1986. He is currently serving his fourth term as senator.

McCain was born in Coco Solo in the then American-controlled Panama Canal Zone to Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. and Roberta (Wright) McCain. Despite being born in a foreign country, his parents were both U.S. citizens and he acquired United States citizenship at birth, making him eligible for the Presidency. Both his father and grandfather were famous U.S. Navy admirals. His father commanded American forces in Vietnam while McCain was a prisoner of war. His grandfather John S. McCain, Sr. commanded naval aviation at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. His mother is Roberta Wright (born 1912). He attended Episcopal High School and graduated in 1954. That fall, McCain entered the United States Naval Academy, like his father and grandfather. He graduated in 1958.

In 1965, McCain married Carol Shepp, a model originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McCain adopted his wife's two children Doug and Andy. He and Carol then had a daughter named Sydney. The couple divorced on April 2, 1980.

After graduating from Annapolis, McCain trained as a naval aviator at Pensacola, Florida, and Corpus Christi, Texas. During a practice run in Corpus Christi, his aircraft crashed into Corpus Christi Bay, though he escaped with no major injuries. Eventually he graduated and entered the U.S. Navy's light attack community.

McCain escaped death again on July 29, 1967. While Forrestal steamed off the coast of Vietnam preparing to launch attacks, a Zuni rocket from an F-4 Phantom was accidentally fired across the carrier's deck. The rocket struck McCain's A-4E Skyhawk as the jet was preparing for launch. The impact ruptured the Skyhawk's fuel tank, which ignited the fuel and knocked two bombs loose. McCain escaped from his jet by climbing out of the cockpit, working himself to the nose of the jet, and jumping off its refueling probe onto the burning deck of the aircraft carrier. Ninety seconds after the impact, one of the bombs exploded underneath his airplane. McCain was struck in the legs and chest by shrapnel. The ensuing fire killed 132 sailors, injured 62 others, destroyed at least 20 aircraft, and threatened to sink the ship. A video of the incident has been made available by McCain's Presidential Exploratory Committee.

After the Forrestal incident, McCain joined the VA-163 Saints on board the short-staffed Oriskany. Before McCain's arrival, on October 26, 1966, a mishandled flare caused a deck fire, resulting in the death of 44 men, including 24 pilots, and the Oriskany was just returning to duty after significant repairs.

The Saints squadron and its parent Air Wing 16 suffered the highest loss rate of any Navy flying unit during the entire Vietnam War. These heavy losses have been attributed to the perilous missions assigned to the squadron and the aggressiveness of its aviators.

On October 26, 1967, McCain's A-4 Skyhawk was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, landing in Truc Bach Lake. He broke both arms and a leg after ejecting from his plane. After he regained consciousness, a mob gathered around him, spat on him, kicked him and stripped him of his clothing. He was then tortured by North Vietnamese soldiers, who bayonetted him in his left foot and groin. His shoulder was crushed by a rifle butt. He was then transported to the Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton.

Once McCain arrived at the Hanoi Hilton, he was placed in a cell and interrogated daily. When McCain refused to provide any information to his captors, he was beaten until he lost consciousness.

When the North Vietnamese discovered his father was the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command, (CINCPAC), commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, he was offered a chance to return home. McCain turned down the offer of repatriation.

McCain signed an anti-American propaganda message as a result of rigorous and brutal torture methods, which to this day have left him incapable of raising his arms above his head. According to McCain, signing the propaganda message is something he most regrets during his time as a POW. After McCain signed the statement, the Vietnamese decided they could not use it. They tried to force him to sign a second statement, and this time he refused. He received two to three beatings per week because of his continued refusal.

McCain was held as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five and a half years, mostly in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, and was finally released from captivity in 1973, having been a POW for almost an extra five years due to his earlier refusal to accept an out of turn repatriation offer. McCain was reinstated to flight status and became Commanding Officer of the VA-174 Hellrazors, the East Coast A-7 Corsair II Navy training squadron.

In 1976 he became the Navy's liaison to the Senate. He retired from the Navy in 1981 as a captain. During his military career, he received a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit, the Purple Heart, and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

McCain is one of five Vietnam veterans currently serving in the U.S. Senate; the others are Thomas Carper (D-DE), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), John Kerry (D-MA), and Jim Webb (D-VA).

A television-based film entitled Faith Of My Fathers, based on McCain's memoir of his experiences as a POW, aired on Memorial Day, 2005 on A&E.

In 1980, McCain married Cindy Hensley and moved to Phoenix. There he went to work for her father's Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship, where he gained political support among the local business community. When John Jacob Rhodes, the longtime Republican congressman from Arizona's 1st congressional district, announced his retirement, McCain ran for the seat as a Republican in 1982 and won. In 1986, upon Republican Senator Barry Goldwater's retirement, McCain was elected to succeed him.

In 1997, TIME named him as one of the "25 Most Influential People in America". His best-selling family memoir, Faith of My Fathers (1999), helped propel his presidential run. McCain skipped the Iowa caucus, focusing instead on the New Hampshire primary. In visits to towns he gave a ten-minute talk (focused on campaign reform issues), then announced he would stay until he answered every question that everyone had. He made over 200 stops, talking in every town in New Hampshire in an example of "retail politics" that overcame Bush's famous name. He won by 49-30, and suddenly was the celebrity of the hour. Analysts predicted that a McCain victory in the crucial primary in South Carolina would give him unstoppable momentum. However, McCain lost South Carolina, allowing Bush to regain the momentum. Analysts attribute McCain's loss in South Carolina to Bush's mobilization of the state's evangelical voters. Indeed, each side made allegations of negative campaigning against the other. There was alleged to have been a push polling campaign by the Bush camp, in which phone calls were made to conservative Republican voters in the Deep South, allegedly to ask them whether they would support McCain if he had an illegitimate interracial daughter with a black woman. McCain in fact has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh. Accounts of this are covered in the books, Bush's Brain and Boy Genius.

McCain never recovered from his defeat in South Carolina, although he did bounce back by winning in Michigan and Arizona. However, McCain made serious mistakes that negated any momentum he may have regained with the Michigan victory. In Virginia, he began criticizing conservative Christian leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. McCain lost the Virginia primary and then, a week later, went on to lose 9 of the 13 primaries on Super Tuesday. His overall loss on that day has been attributed to his going "off message", ineffectively accusing Bush of being anti-Catholic in response to his visit to Bob Jones University and getting into a verbal battle with leaders of the Religious Right. McCain was also criticized for his continued use of an ethnic slur in reference to his Vietnamese captors. He told reporters, "I hate the gooks.... I will hate them as long as I live." At first, he stood by his use of the slur, saying that "it was applied to a small group of sadists and murderers and the kindest word I could use about them was that." Amid heavy criticism, McCain later reversed his position and apologized, though the delay aroused the ire of Asian Americans. McCain would go on to win a few more primaries (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont), but in a two-man contest he was unable to catch up.

McCain publicly supported Bush in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He often praised Bush's leadership since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. McCain's reputation as a moderate appealed to many voters who found Bush too conservative, and in the 2000 elections, many saw Bush as the more conservative candidate and McCain as the more moderate candidate. In fact, according to, McCain's voting record in the 109th Congress was the third most conservative among senators. On the other hand, his voting record during the 107th Congress, from January 2001 through November 2002, placed him as the 6th most liberal Republican senator, according to the same analysis at

McCain's colleague, and also the 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee, John Kerry of Massachusetts, reportedly asked McCain to be his running mate.

McCain accused the Swift Boat Vet campaign against Kerry of being "dishonest and dishonorable."

McCain announced he is seeking the 2008 Presidential nomination from the GOP on the Wednesday, February 28, 2007, telecast of the Late Show With David Letterman. On April 25, 2007, shortly after noon in Prescott Park on the waterfront of Portsmouth, NH McCain officially started his 2008 presidential campaign. He then visited Manchester, NH on the same day before starting a planned three day campaign rally in South Carolina, Iowa, Nevada, and Arizona.

Should McCain win in 2008, he would be the oldest person to assume the Presidency in history at initial ascension to office, being 72 years old and surpassing Ronald Reagan, who was 69 years old at his inauguration following the 1980 election. He has dismissed concerns about his age and past health concerns (malignant melanoma in 2000), stating in 2005 that his health was "excellent." In the event of his victory in 2008, he would also become the first President of the United States to be born in a U.S. territory outside of the current 50 states.

McCain's oft-cited strengths as a presidential candidate in 2008 include national name recognition, sponsorship of major lobbying and campaign finance reform initiatives, leadership in exposing the Abramoff scandal, military service (including years as a tortured POW), competing in the 2000 presidential campaign (where he won the New Hampshire primary), extensive fund-raising abilities, strong advocacy for President Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, and nominee for Vice President. A Time Magazine poll dated January 2007 shows McCain trailing Hillary Clinton by 1%; results also indicate that fewer Americans are familiar with McCain than any of the other frontrunners, including Republican candidate and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Democratic hopeful Senator Barack Obama. During the 2006 election cycle, McCain attended 346 events and raised more than $10.5 million on behalf of Republican candidates. He also donated nearly $1.5 million to federal, state and county parties.

In May 2006, McCain gave the commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. During his 2000 presidential bid, McCain had called Falwell an "agent of intolerance." With significant coverage during the campaign, McCain said that he would never back down from his earlier statement. His later appearance at Liberty University prompted questions about the McCain-Falwell relationship and a possible presidential run in 2008. McCain backtracked and stated that Falwell is no longer that divisive figure and the two have discussed their shared values. McCain delivered a similar address at The New School commencement in Madison Square Garden. McCain was received by boos, jeers, and several students and professors turned their backs or waved fliers reading "McCain does not speak for me." McCain's speech mentioned his unwavering support for the Iraq War and focused on hearing opposing viewpoints, listening to each other, and the relevance of opposition in a democracy. At the recent inauguration of Alabama governor Bob Riley, McCain mentioned the incumbent as a possible running mate in the 2008 election.

He hired a board member of the Project for the New American Century, Randy Scheunemann, as his foreign-policy aide.

On Wednesday, April 11, 2007, Sen. McCain gave a speech on the war to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Corps of Cadets after his return from Iraq. His speech was centered on his support for a new strategy in Iraq and his opposition to Democratic efforts towards troop withdrawal. This was one of three policy addresses McCain is giving in April.

A lifelong Republican, McCain's American Conservative Union total rating is 82 percent with a 65 percent rating for 2006. However, McCain has supported some initiatives not agreed upon by his own party and has been called a "maverick" by some members of the American media.

McCain's reputation as a maverick stems from his support for gay rights issues, support for a guest worker program for illegal immigrants, support for stricter limits on political campaign funds, his mixed record on environmental issues and opposition to abortion, and President Bush's $350 billion in tax breaks over 11 years, which are also known as the Bush Tax cuts.

The Keating Five (or Keating Five Scandal) refers to a Congressional scandal related to the collapse of most of the Savings and Loan institutions in the United States in the late 1980s. McCain was one of five senators who met at least twice in 1987 with Ed Gray, chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, seeking to prevent the government's seizure of Lincoln Savings and Loan, a subsidiary of Charles H. Keating's American Continental Corporation. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain received approximately $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates. In addition, McCain's wife and her father had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center in April 1986, a year before McCain met with the regulators. McCain, his family and baby-sitter made at least nine trips at Keating's expense, sometimes aboard the American Continental jet. After learning Keating was in trouble over Lincoln, McCain paid for the air trips totalling $13,433. Federal regulators ultimately filed a $1.1 billion civil racketeering and fraud suit against Keating, accusing him of siphoning Lincoln's deposits to his family and into political campaigns. McCain received a rebuke from the Ethics Committee for exercising poor judgment for intervening with the federal regulators on behalf of Keating. On his Keating Five experience, McCain said: "The appearance of it was wrong. It's a wrong appearance when a group of senators appear in a meeting with a group of regulators, because it conveys the impression of undue and improper influence. And it was the wrong thing to do."

* In 1998, McCain was chastised for reportedly making an off-color joke at a Republican fundraiser about President Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, saying "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." McCain later apologized to President Clinton and Clinton accepted his apology.

* McCain has acknowledged engaging in extramarital affairs upon returning from Vietnam. While he was in Vietnam, his wife Carol raised his three children. She was also severely injured in a car accident. Due to the accident, she had become 4 inches shorter, gained weight, and had to use crutches to walk.. He soon began engaging in extramarital affairs and in 1979, he met Cindy Hensley, a 25-year-old. He continued his extramarital affairs while living with his wife. A year later, McCain sought a divorce from Carol and a month after that, he married Cindy. The Hensley family fortune was important in launching his political career.

* McCain openly used the term "gook", a racial slur to describe Vietnamese, in odd reference to his captors during the Vietnam War. During the 2000 Presidential Campaign, he repeatedly refused to apologize for his continued use of the term, stating that he reserved its reference only to his captors. Late in the primary season, with growing criticism from the Asian American community in the politically important state of California, McCain demurred, and vowed to no longer use the term in public.

* On March 28, 2007, McCain claimed that "General Petraeus goes out in Baghdad almost every day in an unarmed humvee". On March 29, CNN's John Roberts revealed the results of his investigation into this claim, "I checked with General Petraeus’s people overnight and they said he never goes out in anything less than an up-armored humvee.” On the same day, McCain also claimed that "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today... The US is beginning to succeed in Iraq." Barry McCaffrey, on the same day, issued a report saying, “... no Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat reporter could walk the streets of Baghdad without heavily armed protection”.

* On April 1, 2007, McCain and other lawmakers visited a Baghdad market and claimed that "things are better and there are encouraging signs". The day after McCain's visit, 21 workers at the market were murdered.

* During a campaign appearance in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina on April 18, McCain was asked a question about possible military action against Iran. He responded by singing the lyrics of a 1980 song by Vince Vance & The Valiants, “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran”, which parodied the Beach Boys' hit song Barbara Ann. When later confronted about the matter, McCain stated, "My response is lighten up, and get a life." Asked whether the joke he made was insensitive, McCain retorted, "Insensitive to what? The Iranians?"

* During a taping of The Daily Show on April 24, 2007, Jon Stewart asked McCain, "What do you want to start with, the bomb Iran song or the walk through the market in Baghdad?" McCain responded by saying,"I think maybe shopping in Baghdad...I had something picked out for you, too — a little IED to put on your desk." On April 25, 2007, representative John Murtha demanded an apology from McCain on the floor of the House.

He made a cameo in the 2005 summer movie Wedding Crashers.

He has been a regular guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and is a good friend of the host Jon Stewart and the show.

McCain hosted the October 12, 2002, episode of Saturday Night Live, making him the third U.S. Senator after Paul Simon and George McGovern, to host the show.

In the 2005 documentary Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki, McCain is interviewed.

McCain made a brief cameo on the television show 24.

He appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2005 in a bit entitled Secrets.

A 2005 made-for-TV movie, Faith of My Fathers, was based on John McCain's memoirs of his experience in the Vietnam War.

McCain lives with his second wife Cindy Hensley McCain in Phoenix. She is the chairman of the large Anheuser-Busch beer and liquor distributor Hensley & Company, founded by her father. Cindy suffered a stroke in April 2004 due to high blood pressure, but appears to have made a full recovery.

In 1979, McCain was living with his first wife while, according to Nicholas Kristof, he was "aggressively courting a 25-year-old woman who was as beautiful as she was rich." Kristof continues: "Mr. McCain abandoned his wife, who had reared their three children while he was in Vietnamese prisons, and he then began his political career with the resources of his new wife's family." His first wife and children have since forgiven him.

McCain has a history, beginning with his military career, of lucky charms and superstitions to gain fortune. While serving in Vietnam, he demanded that his parachute rigger clean his visor before each flight. On the 2000 campaign, he carried a lucky compass, feather, shoes, pen, penny and, at times, a rock. An incident when McCain misplaced his feather caused a brief panic in the campaign.

McCain has been treated for recurrent skin cancer, including melanoma, in 1993, 2000, and 2002.

He has seven children and four grandchildren. McCain adopted his first wife Carol's sons (Doug and Andy), and he and Carol had a daughter, (Sydney). John has three biological children with his wife Cindy — Meghan, Columbia University (2007); John Sidney IV (Jack), United States Naval Academy (2009); and James, Brophy College Preparatory (2006); in addition, he and Cindy adopted their youngest daughter, Bridget, from a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Teresa. McCain's son James enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006, and began recruit training in September 2006.

* On February 13, 2007, World Leadership Forum presented Senator John McCain with the Policymaker of the Year Award, at a private ceremony in Washington. The World Leadership Forum’s annual ‘Policymaker of the Year’ Award is given to a living individual who has created, inspired or strongly influenced important policy or legislation. The nationality or domicile of candidates has no influence on the outcome; the sole criterion is the quality of leadership shown.
* On December 5, 2006, McCain was awarded the Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
* On September 28, 2005, The Eisenhower Institute awarded him the Eisenhower Leadership Prize. The prize recognizes individuals whose lifetime accomplishments reflect Dwight D. Eisenhower’s legacy of integrity and leadership.
* In December 2004, McCain became an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society at Trinity College Dublin.

* Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, October 2005) ISBN 1-4000-6412-0
* Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, April 2004) ISBN 1-4000-6030-3
* Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shay, Max Cleland, John S. McCain (Scribner, November 2002) ISBN 0-7432-1156-1
* Worth the Fighting for: A Memoir by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, September 2002) ISBN 0-375-50542-3
* Unfinished Business: Afghanistan, the Middle East and Beyond — Defusing the Dangers That Threaten America's Security by Harlan Ullman, John S. McCain (Citadel Press, June 2002) ISBN 0-8065-2431-6
* Faith of My Fathers by John McCain, Mark Salter (Random House, August 1999) ISBN 0-375-50191-6
* The Reminiscences of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., U.S. Navy (retired) by John S. McCain (U.S. Naval Institute, 1999) ISBN B0006RY8ZKPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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