5 times John McCain left the room speechless

Matt Saintsing
August 27, 2018 - 12:12 pm

Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Sipa USA

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John McCain’s death has sparked revering headlines calling him a Maverick and hero. Innumerable tributes poured in over the weekend as did memorable stories from those who knew him best. But taking the time to review the late senator’s complex political life and personal sacrifices, it’s clear he did one thing exceptionally well: give a great quote. 

Here are five times McCain left the room speechless. 


1.    War is Wretched.

Known as a “Warhawk” there’s plenty of criticism to be leveled against McCain on his eagerness to use military force, some of which came from McCain himself. But this quote, from a speech delivered to the American Red Cross, shows how seriously he took the responsibility to put American men and women in harm's way. 

“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.”- May 6, 1999, speech delivered to the American Red Cross. 


2.    That time he called back to the Chinese communist revolutionary, Mao Zedong.

In the summer of 2007, when McCain was struggling in the Republican presidential primary, a reporter asked him about his chances. He later went on to secure the GOP presidential nomination. 

“In the words of Chairman Mao, ‘it’s darkest before it’s totally black.’”- July 2007


3.    That’s what this campaign is all about. 

At a widely-cited town hall event in Lakeville, Minn. during his 2008 presidential run, he responded to a woman who said then-Sen. Barack Obama was an “Arab” inferring he was not American. 

“No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about.” October 2008. 

4.    Academic (un) success. 

On Aug. 2, 2017, McCain was sitting for an interview on KFYI radio in Phoenix, just a few weeks after receiving his brain cancer diagnosis. 

“Look, I am the luckiest person that you will ever have on your show, ever. And I am very aware of that, and I am very happy. For a guy who stood at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, we’ve come a hell of a long way.”

5.    A life of service. 

During an interview with CNN on Sept. 12, 2017, Jake Tapper asked an ailing McCain how he wants to be remembered. 

“He served his country, and not always right—made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors—but served his country, and I hope we can add honorably.” 

We sure can, sir. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate. 

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