After the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Saturday, Maryland politicians, from both sides of the aisles, released statements complimenting the late senator.
Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the state’s senior U.S. senator, who served with McCain for almost 12 years, called McCain a “friend” and an “honorable public servant.”
“His death is a great loss for this country, his state and, above all, his family and friends,” Cardin said. “My deepest sympathies and condolences are with Cindy, their children, and family at this very difficult time.”
McCain, 81, was first elected to the U.S House of Representatives in 1982 after spending more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. After winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1986, McCain earned a reputation as a political maverick who was willing to cross the aisle to make deals with Democrats.
Among McCain’s biggest bipartisan achievements was the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which he co-sponsored with Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) in an attempt to limit the influence of money in politics. However, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of the law in the 2010 decision Citizens United v. FEC.
McCain gained a reputation as a “hawk” in the Senate, who pushed for American military interventions in Iraq and later Syria, the former he said he eventually regretted. McCain came to butt heads with President Donald J. Trump, particularly over the issue as to the influence of the Russian government in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Cardin noted that he and McCain worked together during the last year to implement stricter sanctions against Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 campaign.
“Last year, Senator McCain worked with me to ensure a new, tough sanctions regime against Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs for their insidious attack on our democracy,” Cardin said. “Senator McCain fought alongside me to make sure our efforts to hold Russia accountable made it into law. Just last month, he joined a bipartisan group of senators again toward the same goal, given Putin’s persistent attacks on our democratic system.
McCain ran for president twice, losing the Republican bid in 2000 to George W. Bush and to Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign, during which McCain was credited with giving a conciliatory concession speech, which recognized the significance of Obama’s victory, becoming the first African-American president.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also released a statement commemorating the late Arizona senator.
“Senator John McCain was a statesman, a veteran, and an American hero,” Van Hollen said. “His passion and determination were unsurpassed in the U.S. Senate, and his moral compass was unfailing.”
In honor of McCain, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff until McCain is buried, which is scheduled for Sunday in Annapolis at the U.S. Naval Academy, his alma mater.
McCain was in the Navy for more than 20 years, serving as a pilot during the Vietnam War, where he was shot down and captured. McCain, who broke both his arms and a leg during the ejection of his A-4E Skyhawk, was captured by the North Vietnamese and then tortured in the infamous prisoner-of-war camp known as the “Hanoi Hilton.”
When his captors learned that McCain’s father, John “Jack” S. McCain, Jr., was appointed commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese captures offered to release McCain, but he refused to go, insisting that American prisoners that were captured before him should be released before he was released.
“Senator John McCain will forever remain one of the most valiant heroes our country has ever known,” Hogan said. “He has long stood as a shining example of doing the right thing and standing up for his principles even – and especially – when the going gets tough.
Flags were originally lowered to half-staff at the White House, but were raised, only to be lowered again. President Trump offered his sympathies on Twitter for the McCain family on Saturday. Trump had said during his presidential campaign that McCain was not a hero because of his military service, saying instead, “I like people that weren’t captured.”
“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain,” Trump tweeted. “Our hearts and prayers are with you!”
Services for McCain will be held in both Arizona and Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, McCain’s body will lie in state at the Arizona State Capital in Phoenix before being transferred for a memorial service at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, where a ceremony will be held at 10 a.m., with members of the public being welcomed to pay their respects from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
A memorial service for McCain will be held at the Washington National Cathedral at 10 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, McCain will be buried at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.