These Photos of John McCain Show The Legacy He Leaves Behind

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Just a day after his family announced that he would be ending his treatment for brain cancer, Sen. John McCain has died at 81. One of the longest-serving senators in Arizona's history, McCain made a name for himself with his sense of humor, his willingness to break with his party on controversial votes, and the unprecedented press access he gave reporters during his multiple runs for president. Here are some photos of McCain that show the legacy he leaves behind in Congress and beyond.

McCain was a national hero long before he was even a lawmaker. As a young Navy pilot, McCain's plane was shot down over North Vietnamese territory in 1967, and he was subsequently imprisoned by North Vietnamese forces. Although was offered early release when his captors learned that his father was a powerful Navy admiral, McCain refused to leave until the POWs who'd been captured before him were also released. As a result, he spent almost six years in a North Vietnamese prison, where he was tortured and permanently disabled.

After his release, McCain successfully ran for the House of Representatives and, four years later, the Senate. His flagship accomplishments as a lawmaker include the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, colloquially known as the McCain-Feingold Act, and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. McCain also ran twice for president, once in 2000 and once in 2008.

The Arizona Senator's career wasn't without controversy. He was a central figure in the Keating Five banking scandal in the late 1980s (though he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing) and has regularly supported U.S. military intervention in foreign countries. McCain also drew criticism for steadfastly opposing the integration of LGBT troops into the armed services.

Nevertheless, McCain leaves behind a long, storied legacy in American politics. Here are the pictures to prove it.

In The Navy

McCain enlisted in the Navy in 1958, and was captured by North Vietnamese forces in 1967.

Coming Home

After being held captive and tortured for five and a half years, McCain was released. He enjoyed a hero's welcome upon his return to the United States.

Celebrating His Service

By the time McCain entered Congress in 1982, he'd already met President Richard Nixon twice as a result of his service in the Vietnam War.

Rising Star

McCain quickly emerged as a talented young legislator, and gave an address at the Republican National Convention just two years after being elected to the House of Representatives.

Moving On Up

After just four years in the House, McCain ran for and won the open Senate seat being vacated by Barry Goldwater. Like Goldwater before him, McCain would eventually become his party's presidential nominee.

Running For President

McCain ran for president in 2000, and after his upset victory in the New Hampshire primary, emerged as a surprisingly strong challenger to presumptive favorite George W. Bush.


Although Bush ultimately won the Republican nomination in 2000, McCain's campaign is still a regular topic of discussion and analysis for political historians, and his willingness to occasionally buck GOP leadership sparked alarm amongst many establishment Republicans.

Giving It Another Go

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McCain ran for president again in 2008, and this time, he won his party's nomination. Although he ultimately lost to Barack Obama, his campaign is remembered largely for catapulting Sarah Palin and her unique brand of right-wing politics into the national spotlight. Obama would later observe that he sees a "straight line" between Palin joining McCain's ticket in 2008 and Donald Trump winning the presidency in 2016.

Bipartisan Lawmaker

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McCain was noted for his close personal and working relationships with members of Democratic Party. He and Hillary Clinton were said to be particularly fond of one another.

"The Three Amigos"

McCain also had a long and public friendship with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Sickness And Health

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McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017. While still recovering from surgery, he returned to Washington D.C. and, in a move that shocked Democrats and Republicans alike, delivered the tie-breaking vote that ended Republicans' attempt to repeal Obamacare.

Passing The Torch

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McCain's daughter Meghan has pursued a career in media and emerged as a prominent Republican pundit in her own right. She's currently a co-host on The View and recently made headlines for delivering an impassioned argument against progressive economic policies on her show.

McCain was 81 years old. He is survived by Meghan, his wife Cindy and his mother Roberta.