Vietnam War hero, longtime senator and GOP presidential candidate John McCain died Saturday at the age of 81 after battling cancer. Tributes from politicians across the aisle poured out as soon as news of McCain’s death surfaced. Check out these reactions from politicians and others from our area who knew the Last Lion of the U.S. Senate.
Bob Asher, national committeeman for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania and involved in McCain's presidential campaign
"John McCain didn't have the least drop of phoniness in his system. We just lost a very decent human being and we could stand more of them in politics today."
Asher remembers being invited out to his home in Arizona with his son during the campaign, they stayed in a hotel and then would go out for meetings to what he called "the cabins," one night having a cookout as the sun was going down.
"There's no question the man loved where he lived," Asher said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
John McCain’s life is proof that some truths are timeless. Character. Courage. Integrity. Honor. A life lived embodying those truths casts a long, long shadow. John McCain will cast a long shadow. His impact on America hasn’t ended. Not even close. It will go on for many years to come.
As a POW, John endured the worst of what human beings can do to one another. In politics, he fell short of his greatest ambition. At the end of his life he faced a cruel and relentless disease. And yet through it all he never lost sight of what he believed most: Country First. And the spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves.
John was many things – a proud graduate of the Naval Academy, a Senate colleague, a political opponent. But, to me, more than anything, John was a friend.
America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly.
On behalf of myself, Jill, and the entire Biden family, our sincerest condolences go out to Cindy, Doug, Andy, Sidney, Meghan, Jack, Jimmy, Bridget, and the entire McCain family.
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Senator Cory Booker
John McCain so warmly welcomed me to the Senate in ‘13. Our later private meeting in his office remains 1 of my most inspiring moments as a Senator.
Death may end a life but it can never end a love. John Loved America: his impact will forever endure. RIP
Congressman Brendan Boyle
I am filled with grief by the news of Senator John McCain’s passing. The Senator was a lifelong public servant – a war hero in Vietnam, a Senator for over three decades, and a man who always stood up for what he believed was right, even when it bucked his party. Though we didn’t agree on every political issue, I have the utmost respect for his distinguished career. He was truly a man of principle, and will be sorely missed in the halls of the Capitol. I send my thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain’s wife, Cindy, and the rest of the McCain family.
Senator Bob Casey
John McCain was a patriot who served our nation with honor and distinction as a Navy pilot and public official. Today, we come together to mourn his loss, to express gratitude for the sacrifices he made for America and to extend our condolences to his family. As a servicemember, he experienced the horrors of war and captivity and still returned with a desire to continue serving our nation.
Throughout his time in the House of Representatives and more than 30 years in the Senate, John McCain was a tireless fighter for his principles and a champion of U.S. servicemembers. We have all benefited from Senator McCain’s lifetime of service. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
Senator Chris Coons
I have rarely met someone who cared so deeply, sacrificed so much, and represented the best of the United States like John McCain. From his service in the United States Navy to his nearly four decades in Congress, John literally lived a life of service to this country, and our nation is better for it.
Traveling with John, including to a refugee camp in Jordan, a military base in Afghanistan and to the Hỏa Lò Prison in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he was held captive and tortured as a POW for more than five years, has taught me about America’s roles and responsibilities in the world. I’ve seen John represent our country in ways few are able to – delivering tough, principled messages to foreign leaders who didn’t always want to hear them, commanding immediate respect at international gatherings, and even showing the grace to extend a hand of friendship in a country where he endured the unthinkable. In every one of those instances, John not only spoke for the United States, he embodied the principles and traditions that make this country exceptional.
John’s impact was no less significant in the Senate, where he has held a unique reputation among both Democrats and Republicans as someone who understood what the Senate can and should be. When the most complicated, difficult issues were up for debate, from health care to immigration, from national security to campaign finance, we have all benefitted from John’s principled, independent leadership and the trust and respect he’s earned over decades. I was particularly grateful for the opportunity earlier this year to partner with him on a compromise immigration reform bill that offered a way forward when the Senate was stuck. In the years ahead, we will miss his ability to bring Senators together and remind us of what we can do when we check partisanship at the door and work together.
Most of all, I will miss John as a friend and colleague. I will miss his sage advice, unyielding determination, his humor and courage and his famous way with words. Annie and I will be praying for Cindy and all of John’s family in the coming days, and we will cherish our memories of John always.
Mayor Jim Kenney
John McCain spent his entire adult life serving our country – and he did it with honor and integrity. He exemplifies what it means to be an American hero. May he rest in peace.
Senator Bob Menendez
Tonight we lost an American hero who put patriotism over partisanship & whose legacy in the US Senate will last generations. From immigration reform to foreign policy, it was a privilege to work with John McCain. Rest In Peace my friend. America is a better place because of you.
Governor Phil Murphy
During my time as Ambassador to Germany, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Senator John McCain well. He understood the importance of a strong American presence in the world, especially in maintaining our Transatlantic partnerships. In the Senate, he embodied the very American notion that we could disagree without losing our commonality, that we could compromise on policy without abandoning our principles — something that is rapidly becoming in short supply. Tammy and I send our deepest condolences to Cindy and the entire McCain family. Our nation has lost a hero and a guiding light.
Congressman Donald Norcross
Senator John McCain was a true American patriot who helped define public service and love of country.
We had our policy differences, but I will always respect his bipartisanship and leadership. In fact, all Americans should be respectful of, and grateful for, Senator McCain’s heroism and bravery.
My family sends our thoughts and prayers to the McCain family during this difficult time.
Senator Pat Toomey
Today is a sad day for the Senate and America. Senator John McCain was a hero and one of our nation’s greatest patriots.
But most of all Senator McCain was a fighter. He fought for his country in Vietnam. He fought for his brothers in arms while being held as prisoners of war. And for more than thirty years, Senator McCain fought for Arizonans in the Senate. Most importantly, Senator McCain was not afraid to fight for what he thought was right, even when it was unpopular.
Senator McCain led a life that should be admired and respected by all Americans. I am proud to have called him a friend. Kris and I send our deepest sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family.
Governor Tom Wolf
Senator John McCain dedicated his entire life to his country. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice and contributions over decades of service. He will be missed.