Saturday, September 22, 2018

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McCain’s final statement: ‘Americans never quit’

Late senator implores Americans to put aside 'tribal rivalries' and focus on what unites

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    The desk of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is draped in black Monday on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCain died Saturday at the age of 81 after battling brain cancer.

    Associated Press

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    Rick Davis, spokesman for Sen. John McCain’s family, addresses the media during a news conference Monday in Phoenix.

    Associated Press

  • APTOPIX-McCain-2

    Flags flying a half-staff in honor of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., frame the U.S. Capital at daybreak in Washington, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. McCain, 81, died at his ranch in Arizona after a yearlong battle with brain cancer. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

    J. David Ake

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    Joe Gruber, of Anthem, Ariz., holds an American flag at an overpass along Interstate 17 as he and dozens of others wait for the procession with the hearse carrying the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, in Anthem, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin

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    FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2008, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks at a rally in Davenport, Iowa. Arizona Sen. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, has died. He was 81. His office says McCain died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. He had battled brain cancer. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

    Gerald Herbert

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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks about Sen. John McCain on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McConnell paid tribute to McCain by recalling their own legislative battles while echoing the late senator's belief that there's more that unites than divides Americans. Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell says that while McCain served the state of Arizona in Congress, "he was America's hero all along." (Senate Television via AP)

    AP

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    Rick Davis, spokesperson for Sen. John McCain's family, leaves after a news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. Davis discussed the memorial arraignments for McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Matt York

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    Rick Davis, spokesperson for Sen. John McCain's family, reacts as he speaks to the media during a news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. Davis discussed the memorial arraignments for McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Matt York

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    Rick Davis, spokesperson for Sen. John McCain's family, reacts as he speaks to the media during a news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. Davis discussed the memorial arraignments for McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, and who died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Matt York

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    Flags frame David Carrasco, a member of the POW-MIA-KIA Honor Guard, as he stands watch in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at a local mortuary where McCain is being kept Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin

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    Rick Davis, spokesperson for Sen. John McCain's family, reacts as he speaks to the media during a news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. Davis discussed the memorial arraignments for McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, on Aug. 25, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Matt York

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    Rick Davis, spokesperson for Sen. John McCain's family, reacts as he speaks to the media during a news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. Davis discussed the memorial arraignments for McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, on Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Matt York

  • McCain-12

    Members of the POW-MIA-KIA Honor Guard stand watch in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at the local mortuary where he is being kept Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin

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    Rick Davis, spokesperson for Sen. John McCain's family, reacts as he speaks to the media during a news conference Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. Davis discussed the memorial arraignments for McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, on Aug. 25, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Matt York

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    Ted Olsen, of Phoenix, looks to place an American flag at a makeshift memorial in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at McCain's office Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin

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    Thu-Van Cunningham, of Phoenix, reads messages left by well-wishers as she visits a makeshift memorial in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain at McCain's office Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin

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    James Olsen, left, of Columbia, S.C., places flowers at a makeshift memorial in honor of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain as he visits the site with his brother Ted Olsen, right, of Phoenix, at McCain's office on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, in Phoenix. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, died at the age of 81, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, after battling brain cancer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin

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    People on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange observe a minute of silence to honor Sen. John McCain, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    Richard Drew

  • McCain-Final-Resting-Place-18

    A wooden spike and an orange traffic cone mark the spot, Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018 where Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will be buried on the grounds of the U. S. Navel Academy in Annapolis, Md. McCain is set to be buried next to his best friend, Adm. Chuck Larson, from his days at the U.S. Naval Academy _ and not in Arlington National Cemetery with his father and grandfather. (AP Photo/Laurie Kellman)

    Laurie Kellman

  • McCain-19

    The official placard marking the office of Arizona Sen. John McCain is seen in the Russell building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. McCain, a Vietnam War hero, two-time Republican presidential contender and towering figure in Congress known for his bipartisan deal-making during six terms as an Arizona senator, died Saturday at age 81 of brain cancer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    J. Scott Applewhite

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    The official placard marking the office of Arizona Sen. John McCain is seen in the Russell building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. McCain, a Vietnam War hero, two-time Republican presidential contender and towering figure in Congress known for his bipartisan deal-making during six terms as an Arizona senator, died Saturday at age 81 of brain cancer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    J. Scott Applewhite

  • McCain-21

    A statue of Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia stands in the rotunda of a Senate office building named after him, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. After the death of Sen. John McCain of Arizona this weekend, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he will introduce a resolution to rename the Russell Senate Office Building to honor McCain. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    J. Scott Applewhite

  • Trump-McCain-22

    The American flag files at half-staff at the White House, Monday afternoon, Aug. 27, 2018, in Washington. Two days after Sen. John McCain's death, President Donald Trump says he respects the senator's "service to our country" and has signed a proclamation to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until his burial. The flag atop the White House flew at half-staff over the weekend but was raised Monday and then lowered again amid criticism. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Alex Brandon

PHOENIX — Sen. John McCain expressed his deep gratitude and love of country in his final letter and implored Americans to put aside “tribal rivalries” and focus on what unites.

Rick Davis, former presidential campaign manager for the Arizona Republican and Vietnam War hero who is serving as a family spokesman, read the farewell message Monday at a press briefing in Phoenix.

In the statement, McCain reflected on the privilege of serving his country and said he tried to do so honorably. He also touched on today’s politics.

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here,” McCain wrote. “Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.”

McCain died Saturday from an aggressive form of brain cancer. Plans taking shape called for McCain to lie in state Wednesday in the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on what would have been his 82nd birthday. A funeral will be conducted Thursday at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix with former Vice President Joe Biden speaking.

In Washington, McCain will lie in state Friday in the Capitol Rotunda with a formal ceremony and time for the public to pay respects. On Saturday, a procession will pass the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and arrive for a public funeral at Washington National Cathedral. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to speak at the service.

At the request of the McCain family, President Donald Trump, who often clashed with McCain and denigrated the senator’s war record, will not attend any of the events.

McConnell tribute

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., paid tribute to McCain on Monday by recalling their own legislative battles while echoing the late senator’s belief that there’s more that unites than divides Americans.

Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell said that while McCain served the state of Arizona in Congress, “he was America’s hero all along.”

He spoke near McCain’s desk in the Senate, which has been draped in black and adorned with white roses in his honor.

McConnell and McCain tangled over several issues, including McConnell’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which failed on McCain’s surprise and dramatic thumbs-down “no” vote. McConnell said serving with McCain “was never a dull affair.”

Annapolis burial

A private funeral is planned for Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel followed by a private burial at the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Md. McCain will be buried on a grassy hill right next to a lifelong friend, within earshot of the next generation of midshipmen and within view of the banks of the Severn River.

The senator’s choice was another that showed his trademark individuality. McCain selected the out-of-the-way spot over the grandeur and solemnity of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where his father and grandfather — both four-star admirals — are buried. Instead, the decorated Vietnam War veteran, prisoner of war and six-term senator opted for a front-row position next to his friend Chuck Larson, himself a four-star admiral and ally throughout McCain’s remarkable life.

“Near, where our paths first crossed,” McCain wrote in his memoir of the site.

McCain’s office said on Sunday that Larson, who died in 2014, had reserved four plots at the site — for himself, McCain and their wives, both now widows.

McCain’s and Larson’s friendship began at the academy, where McCain ranked near the bottom of the class of 1958. His best friend, Larson, finished near the top.

They were roommates through flight school. Larson went on to become commander in chief of military forces in the Pacific. He was the second-youngest admiral in history. Larson also was named superintendent of the Naval Academy twice, the last time in 1994 with a mission to restore morale after the largest cheating scandal in its history.

McCain was shot down over Vietnam and tortured for 5½ years as a prisoner of war. After his return to the U.S., he was elected to the House in 1982 and the Senate in 1986. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2000 and again in 2008, the second time as his party’s nominee.

His rebellious nature sometimes frustrated his political allies and strained friendships. But Larson, who died in 2014, and McCain stayed “the closest of friends,” McCain wrote.

Succession

In Arizona, high-profile campaigns announced that they have suspended some activity this week.

McCain was just one of 11 U.S. senators in the state’s 116-year history, and on Tuesday, primary voters will decide the nominees in races across all levels of government. There’s also the sensitive question of who will succeed McCain.

Arizona law requires the governor of the state to name an appointee of the same political party who will serve until the next general election. Since the time to qualify for November’s election is past, the election would take place in 2020, with the winner filling out the remainder of McCain term until 2022.

Possible appointees whose names circulate among Arizona politicos include McCain’s widow, Cindy, former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s chief of staff, Kirk Adams.

Throughout the weekend, Arizona politicos across all levels of government offered remembrances of McCain. Noting McCain’s death, several candidates, including Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Rep. Martha McSally, who are expected to win their party’s races for the state’s other U.S. Senate seat, on Sunday evening said they would suspend their campaigns on Wednesday and Thursday. Ducey, whose office is coordinating services at the Arizona Capitol for McCain, will not attend any campaign events between now and when McCain is buried.

Paying respects

In Phoenix, a memorial outside McCain’s office drew James Olsen, who was on a business trip from Columbia, S.C.

“I’m all the way here. I need to pay my respects,” Olsen said.

Tributes poured in from around the globe. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in English that McCain “was a true American hero. He devoted his entire life to his country.” Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said McCain’s support for the Jewish state “never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom.” And Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, called McCain “a tireless fighter for a strong trans-Atlantic alliance. His significance went well beyond his own country.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told CNN’s “State of the Union,” “He had a joy about politics and a love for his country that was unmatched. And while he never made it to the presidency, in the Senate, he was the leader that would see a hot spot in the world and just say, we need to go there and stand up for that democracy.”


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