John McCain

John McCain

From: January 3, 1987-present

From: January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1987

John Sidney McCain III, born in the U.S. Panama Canal Zone, August 29, 1936 (age 81), [1] was the Republican candidate for President in 2008 as well as a prominent maverick politician and Vietnam War veteran. He is also the senior Senator of Arizona. He has been an influential leader in American politics since 1986, when he ran for office attacking corruption, attacking pork barrel spending and working for campaign finance reform. McCain was defeated by George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, and lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election.

As a pilot for the United States Navy and former Prisoner-of-War (POW), he served in the military for 22 years. [1] McCain, a Baptist, [2] has emphasizes issues related to foreign policy and national security, which have propelled him in the forefront of national politics as both an outspoken voice for the United States military and as a Presidential contender for the Republican Party since 1993. [3]

Despite his hawkish national security positions, McCain takes moderate positions overall, and he has flip-flopped various times, most notably when he voted against repealing ObamaCare in 2017 when he made numerous campaign statements several years prior stating he would do the exact opposite. McCain also is a globalist on issues related to foreign policy. [4]

Early life

McCain’s family has a long history of military service, including ancestors who fought as army soldiers in the Indian Wars, American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, for both the Union and the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, and in World War I. Both his father and grandfather were four-star Navy admirals. In addition, McCain’s two sons are currently serving in the U.S. Navy.

In 1951, the McCain family moved to Northern Virginia and he attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. McCain was on the wrestling team and went on to graduate in 1954. He later joined the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1958.

Military career

McCain served heroically in the United States Navy from 1958 to 1981. He spent two and a half years as a naval aviator in training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida and the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas. By 1967, McCain was a veteran pilot aboard the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam. On 29 July 1967, while preparing to take off on a bombing run over North Vietnam, a missile accidentally fired from another plane, hitting the fuel tanks on McCain’s aircraft and triggering explosions and a fire. McCain escaped from his plane by crawling onto the nose of the aircraft and diving on to the ship’s deck which was ablaze from burning fuel. His attempt to rescue a fellow pilot whose flight suit was on fire was prevented when McCain was blown over by further explosions. When the fire was contained 24 hours later, 134 men had been killed and hundreds more injured. It was called the worst non-combat-related accident in U.S. naval history. [5]

Prisoner-Of-War (1967–1973)

On October 26, 1967, as McCain was flying over Hanoi’s Thermal Power Plant during his 23rd bombing mission, he was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese. He had just released his bombs when his plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. As he ejected, unconscious from the accident, he broke his knee and both arms and descended by parachute into a lake. When he floated ashore, Vietnamese locals spit and kicked him, nearly killing him. The police took him to Hoa Loa Prison where he was held in solitary captivity without medical attention or sufficient food. During brutal interrogations, he was asked for information in return for medical care. McCain refused, giving only his name and date of birth. When it was discovered that he was the son of a top U.S. Admiral, he was given medical care. Hospital personnel never believed he would survive, as he had large wounds and weighed a mere 100 lbs. He also had completely white hair, a product of accelerated aging under harsh conditions. Nonetheless, his health improved and McCain was held as a Prisoner-Of-War (POW) at the Hanoi Hilton. As a prisoner, guards tortured him with frequent beatings and painful contortions, breaking his teeth and bones. [6]

After months of beating sessions and intense interrogations, McCain was psychologically and physically weakened. At one point, he was forced to sign a statement which made claims exonerating his captors of inhumane treatment. The paper was intended for use as propaganda, but in all their subsequent attempts for promoting a «humane» image of the POW camp, McCain worked his hardest to thwart them. In 1971, four years from his capture, he was placed with 20 to 30 other Americans in better treatment. They were allowed to celebrate Christian holidays, including Christmas. McCain, who served as an impromptu chaplain, recalled that during their services, men cried, «They were tears of joy that for the first time. we were able to celebrate Christmas together.» [7] In light of his father’s high military status, McCain was offered early release, which he adamantly refused in honor of the «First in, first out» clause of the POW Code of Conduct.

On March 14, 1973, after five and a half years of imprisonment, McCain was released alongside 106 other pilots under the Nixon administration. McCain received a heartfelt reception at the White House and was pronounced a war hero and eminent voice for the Vietnam War. Awards from the military followed, including the Legion of Merit, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Vietnamese Legion of Honor. [8] McCain’s severe war injuries prevent him today from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. [9]

Return to the Navy (1973–1981)

The Vietnam War and his military service remained strong in McCain’s. He immediately wanted to rejoin the Navy, and spent years preparing with excruciating physical therapy and a year of study in the Naval War College, where he attacked the liberal anti-war movement for weakening the morale of his fellow POWs. [10] With his extensive experience in the Navy’s Aviation division, he was selected to reform the flying fleet as Commanding Officer. John McCain quickly transformed his crew’s personnel, which had been underfunded in the post-Vietnam era. Carl Smith, who served under McCain, stated, «He immediately began making changes. He fired people, and he replaced people at the top who he thought were not being as effective as he wanted them to be. He wanted real leadership. He wanted the squadron to come to life.» [11] Many in his staff were disappointed to have him leave, and praised his work in promoting efficiency. [12]

During his assignment to the Senate as the Navy’s liaison, 1977–81, McCain began to join the ranks of politicians. He transformed the position from a rather unimportant post into one of authority and respect [Citation Needed] , gaining allies in the Senate. The Senate liaison role provided a learning experience in national security policy and foreign affairs.

Political career

Congressional (1982–1986)

Prior to entering public service, McCain worked in Phoenix for his father-in-law’s company, Hensley & Co, which was an Anheuser-Busch beer wholesaler and distributor. With nagging injuries and limited physical mobility, McCain realized he would never become a four-star general like his forefathers. [13] Some biographers argue that he shifted into politics so that he could achieve the equivalent in politics, leading to his Senatorial career. After gaining support from local business leaders, he ran for a congressional seat for Arizona’s 1st congressional district as a Republican in 1982. His liberal opponents labeled him as a «carpetbagger». McCain responded to a voter making the charge of «carpetbagging» saying,

With the endorsements of local newspapers, McCain easily won the election. In 1983, he became President of the Republican freshman class of representatives. At the time, he largely supported Reagan’s hard stance against the Soviet Union, his tax cuts and matters on Indian Affairs. He did, however, break with the President on the decision to place a U.S. military presence in Lebanon, saying

Senatorial (1986–Present)

When Republican and conservative icon Barry Goldwater retired from the United States Senate in Arizona in 1986, Congressman McCain announced his candidacy for the seat. He easily won the election, defeating his Democratic opponent Richard Kimball by 20 percentage points. When entering the Senate, he became a member of the powerful Armed Services Committee and he also joined the Commerce Committee and the Indian Affairs Committee. During the 1988 Presidential Election, McCain was named chairman of Veterans for Bush. In 1991, Senator McCain became part of the «Keating Five» scandal, where McCain and four other Senators (all Democrats) were accused of improperly aiding Charles H. Keating, Jr., chairman of the failed Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which was the target of an investigation by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received approximately $112,000 in political contributions from Charles Keating Jr. After a lengthy investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee determined that McCain’s involvement was minimal and was criticized for using «poor judgement».

«Maverick» Image in the Senate

John McCain has gained a reputation as a «maverick» for his sponsorship of many bills and leadership on almost every issue. Starting in 1994, he worked with Democratic Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform. The McCain-Feingold bill banned «soft money». It passed and was signed into law on November 6, 2002, by President Bush. In the 1990s, McCain gained attention for his strong opposition to pork barrel spending. He championed the 1996 Line Item Veto Act, which gave the President the power to veto individual spending items. However, in 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional. rated McCain as the second most conservative Senator in the 109th Congress (Jan. 2005 — Jan. 2007). [15]

John McCain and the Bush administration agree on most issues. He voted with the Bush administration 95% of the time in 2007, according to Congressional Quarterly’s «Presidential Support Scores». [16] Issues include making the Bush tax cuts permanent (even though he originally opposed and voted against them), energy independence, winning the war in Iraq, reforming Social Security, and continuing and expanding Bush’s supply-side economic policies.

In 2008, McCain asked for $0 in earmarks. [17] The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste has given him a rating of 100% in 2007 (88% lifetime). [18] A score of 100% represents voting against all pork, and 0% represents voting for all pork. Democrats averaged 5% in 2007, whereas Republicans averaged 60%. [19]

Presidential Politics

2000 Presidential Campaign

McCain launched his first campaign for President in 2000, when he challenged then-Texas Governor George W. Bush for the Republican nomination. McCain’s campaign was surprisingly strong. By ignoring the Iowa Caucus, he was able to win the New Hampshire Primary by nineteen percentage points. He then won the Michigan Primary. However, he went on to lose South Carolina and 9 out of the 13 Super Tuesday states. McCain withdrew from the race on March 9, 2000.

After withdrawing, McCain announced that he supported the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the top of the South Carolina statehouse. During the primary he had stated he believed it was an issue for the state to decide, which was his true belief from a federal standpoint, but not his personal belief. He felt by withholding her personal belief that he had erred. He explained that he lived his life by being open and felt he should have been at that time and apologized for not speaking up sooner. [20]

During Bush Presidency 2001–2008

Following McCain’s loss in the 2000 Presidential primary and reports of dirty tricks in South Carolina, [21] [22] McCain began to disagree with President Bush on many issues, such as tax cuts, climate change, and gun legislation. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, McCain wrote legislation that created the 9/11 Commission, while he and Democratic Senator Fritz Hollings co-sponsored the Aviation and Transportation Security Act that federalized airport security. In May 2005, McCain led the so-called «Gang of 14» in the Senate, which established a compromise that preserved the ability of senators to filibuster judicial nominees, but only in «extraordinary circumstances». McCain also co-sponsored comprehensive immigration reform (see below under political record for details). In addition to bipartisan work in the Senate, it was during this period that McCain was courted by the Senate Democrats, and considered switching parties. [23]

2008 Presidential Campaign

McCain announced his run for President in early 2007 at New Hampshire, a state which had boosted his floundering 2000 run for President. From the onset, he ran on an unwavering support for the Iraq War and a close tie to President Bush, stemming from his shift during the 2004 election. The Republican Party was highly splintered among political groups, with strong constituents of the Christian social conservatives (Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee), anti-immigration activists (Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo), and the blockbuster fundraisers, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, who appeared to be media favorites upon entry. McCain was not seen as a viable candidate by many Republicans because of his strong support for immigration reform and distaste for political fund-raising. Mitt Romney, for instance, had raised $23 million in the first three months of 2007, for instance, three times that of Sen. McCain. [24]

Christian conservatives overwhelmingly backed Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback, rejecting McCain from longstanding offense he had struck during his 2000 run. John McCain had called politically-charged leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson «agents of intolerance» for their part in a smear campaign during the South Carolina Primary. Many Christians were angered by these remarks, and fumed that they would field a Third Party candidate if McCain was chosen as the nominee. McCain had shown unfavorable views on abortion and religious initiatives in the past, and many Republican voters were worried that he could not be a reliably conservative candidate. [25]

Sen. McCain’s unwavering support for victory in Iraq was made into a hot-button issue by many politicians following stories of insurgent violence erupting during early 2007. People began to fear the worst in Iraq, and the idea of a timetable for withdrawal became a major issue. At this time, conservative Republicans also feared McCain’s position on immigration reform, and booed him loudly at the 2007 Conservative Political Action Conference. A news story by the New York Times was a major blow to the campaign, which reported that a scandalous affair between McCain and a lobbyist had taken place. It was found to be completely false, but the story severely hurt his political advances.

When news had spread that McCain’s campaign bankrupted and «imploded» in the summer of 2007, the Republican nomination began a period of quick shifting, other candidates began to soar in the polls, detracting McCain’s support. Rudy Giuliani, who collected a strong following based on his leadership as «America’s Mayor», began to court evangelical Christians who felt uneasy about McCain, gaining the endorsement of televangelist Pat Robertson. However, as his less-than-flattering personal life and liberal positions on social issues became apparent, he quickly lost momentum to Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee. [26] Fred Thompson, who entered late in the race, quickly withdrew because of lackadaisical popularity and poor fund-raising efforts. Huckabee remained popular in the Southern United States, but failed to win major contests among independents and Democrat voters.

Romney had the edge in early races, but couldn’t deliver a knockout blow. McCain’s poll numbers slowly increased and benefited as the field narrowed. After McCain defeated top contender Mitt Romney by a large margin on Super Tuesday in delegate-rich states like New York, California, and Arizona, [27] Mitt Romney withdrew with some protest, leaving McCain the clear front-runner. [28] Although McCain’s proportion of the vote was not much higher than Romney’s, he won most of the ‘winner take all’ states giving him a much higher proportion of the delegate count. Without Romney’s well-financed opposition, McCain easily clinched the necessary delegate lead of 1,191 in March after a spirited yet short-lived fight from Mike Huckabee. [29]

McCain had won the nomination and could focus on the 2008 United States Presidential Election.

Domestic Policy

Balanced Budget

McCain has emphasized reducing government spending over tax cuts. He is one of the Senate’s most outspoken critics of pork barrel spending and has pledged to veto any bill with pork as President. Congressional experience has enabled John McCain to identify items that are unnecessary. McCain is fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money and created a simple method to detect spending abuses. [30]

  • An appropriation that is not properly authorized by the Senate and not requested by the Administration.
  • An unauthorized and unrequested, locality-specific or facility-specific earmark (including those funds that are above the Administration request).
  • A budget add-on that would be subject to a budget point of order.
  • The transfer or disposal of federal property or items under terms that circumvent existing law.
  • New items added in conference that were never considered in either bill in either House.

Upon his party gaining the White House in 2001, McCain opposed a $1.35 trillion cut in taxation over 10 years, but switched his position around 2006, and voted to renew it twice. The plan included the objectives of doubling the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, reducing the tax penalty on married couples and fully repealing the tax on estates. A United States Senate Finance Committee Report estimated that with all the planned reductions fully phased in, the average family of four making $50,000 would save $1,825 per year. [31]

Since the tax cuts, IRS revenues increased from $1.78 trillion in 2003 to $2.56 trillion in 2007 with a 46.3% increase of individual income tax receipts. Surging $785 billion since the 2003 investment tax cuts, it is the largest four-year revenue increase in U.S. history [32]

During this same time period, spending mandated by Congress has also increased by more than 29 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, representing an 11.4 percent increase in federal spending as a percentage of GDP. This spending has doubled the federal debt, increasing it from 58 to 66 percent of GDP. Defense spending increased 61 percent, and non-defense by 23 percent during the eight years since 2000. The largest non-defense spending increase has been for federally-funded medical expenses, at 54 percent. [33] In total, Congress and the White House has increased government expenditures by the largest percentage since the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, but McCain has opposed every earmark put forward in the Democratic and Republican congresses, even ones Bush supported. Part of the huge spending increases are directly traceable to the economic repercussions of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the economic downturn in its aftermath, and increased defense and Homeland Security spending. However, this appears likely to be eclipsed by the spending plans of Barack Obama, who pledged on 6 December 2008 to invest «record amounts of money» in infrastructure, a plan which some members of Congress are estimating at $400 to $700 billion. [34]

McCain’s policies have caused general economic growth. This is partially due to changes in the stock market that lead to a record high in 2007, although the NASDAQ is still down considerably from the levels it was at before the Dot-com bubble burst. Corporations showed profits growing by double digits growth. [35] Even the working class benefited from the Bush economy, as unemployment hit an all-time low in March 2007. [36] McCain supported a minimum wage increase, one of the platforms for the Democrats in the 2006 Congressional elections, after the House and Senate included McCain’s request of provisions for small-business tax breaks. [37] [38] Tax policies have been favorable to reducing the Capital Gains Tax, with a subsequent surge in investment.

John McCain staunchly opposes earmarks as corrupt and wasteful spending. In his 28 years in federal government, McCain has never requested an earmark. He vigorously crusaded against earmarks in his 2008 presidential campaign.

McCain supports school vouchers and charter schools. His voting record shows support for reducing the federal government’s role in education. He voted for school vouchers for Washington, D.C., education savings accounts, and against $5 billion for grants to local educational agencies. McCain sponsored the Education A-Plus bill in 1997 and again in 1999, which allowed parents to open tax-free saving accounts for their children’s school supplies. McCain also co-sponsored the Child Nutrition Act, which would provide federal funding for at-risk children. He has publicly stated he supports intelligent design teaching in schools. [39]

Health Care

McCain’s record and stated positions on health care are based on true conservative principles. He is against socialized health care and health coverage mandates. McCain supports tax credits for personal health savings accounts and enhancing competition in the health care industry to improve quality and lower costs. He also supports allowing citizens to purchase out-of-state health insurance. In an October 2007 statement, McCain said: «In health care, we believe in enhancing the freedom of individuals to receive necessary and desired care. We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs.» McCain is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership. [40]

John McCain has stated «ethanol subsidies, tariff barriers and sugar quotas drive up food prices and hurt Americans. However, we cannot take the wrong direction and cut off trade for American goods.» [41] “America’s most vital interests call us to the mission of energy security, and so does our sense of honor. And the straightest, swiftest path to energy security is to produce more, use less, and find new sources of power — so that no commodity can determine our security, and no crisis can undermine our economy,” McCain said in Houston, TX, June 16, 2008. He proposes to remove federal obstacles to offshore drilling. Among his major initiatives is the removal of the 27-year old federal moratorium on states’ abilities to explore and drill for oil and natural gas. [42] In addition, he wants the states to receive incentives and royalties to drill. The current ban on offshore drilling covers an estimated 80 percent of U.S. coastal waters.»We’ve seen the impact of it in the form of food prices, in the form of gasoline, in the form of threats of inflation and indeed indications of inflation, and we must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.» [43] He indicated, though, that the end of the ban on offshore drilling would have mostly psychological effects in the short term. At a town hall meeting, McCain stated, «I don’t see an immediate relief, but I do see that exploitation of existing reserves that may exist — and in view of many experts that do exist off our coasts — is also a way that we need to provide relief. Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial.» He would support incentives for building new nuclear power plants. [44] John McCain wants more nuclear reactors to increase America’s energy independence. He is calling for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030. Also, McCain wants to increase federal funds for clean coal technology by 2 billion dollars to reduce dependence on foreign oil. [45] McCain supports increasing ethanol imports and more production of hybrid vehicles. He is co-sponsor of a Senate cap-and-trade bill designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions. He has consistently voted for preserving the budget for ANWR but against drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), because of environmental concerns. Conservationists differ from conservatives that 2000 acres for oil drilling is not enough to impact polar bears in the region.


McCain’s position on global warming issues has put him at odds with conservatives. His environmental proposals are mostly sound modern thinking by someone that understands the enormity of the problem. McCain says that we can go green as a nation without bankrupting America. Per his website, Senator McCain «wants to leave a better future for our children.» On January 2007, McCain said, «we continue to learn more about the science of climate change and the dangerous precedence of not addressing this environmental problem. The science tells us that urgent and significant action is needed.» On October 30, 2003, he co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act (S.139), which was defeated. McCain is a member of, and was endorsed by, the Republicans for Environmental Protection organization. His conservative stances include voting to confirm Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior and he is in favor of renewable energy such as solar, hydro, and wind. «Wind power is one of many alternative energy sources that are changing our economy for the better, and one day they will change our economy forever.»


John McCain says that he will secure the borders first and many immigration issue are still needed but will have to come later. In 2007, McCain worked to provide border security efforts with a temporary worker program and an eventual path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants. Conservatives wanted nothing to do with the proposal and in June 2007, Congress’ efforts collapsed. McCain said of the outcome,»I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people’s priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders.» [46] «..I support the same solution. But we’ve got to secure the borders first» says McCain

On Jan. 5, regarding the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, Senator McCain announced that anyone who says he supported amnesty is «a liar, is lying.» The senator stated «I do not support, nor would I ever support, any services provided to someone who came to this country illegally, nor would I ever and I never have supported Social Security benefits for people who are in this country illegally. Any assertion to the contrary is absolutely false.» During the comprehensive immigration reform debate, Senator McCain voted to table an amendment that would have prevented illegal immigrants from receiving Social Security who «are not able to receive Social Security benefits as a result of unlawful activity.» [47] Senator McCain stated in a May 29, 2003 interview, «Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens.» Arguing amnesty is not a free pass or a reward for law breaking, McCain stated, «Well, because amnesty, according to the dictionary, is forgiveness. The proposal that we had- would require fines, would require back in the line, would require deportation for some. It would require others to go back to the country of their origin» [48] At the Republican debate at the Reagan Library, McCain stated he supports the deportation of 2 million illegals who have committed crimes in the USA.

Conversely, in a June 2008 meeting with Hispanic leaders in Chicago, McCain indicated he would push legislation to overhaul federal immigration laws if elected. According to one attendee, Rosanna Pulido, head of the Illinois Minuteman Project, «»He’s one John McCain in front of white Republicans. And he’s a different John McCain in front of Hispanics. » [49] [50] Pulido further stated, «He was telling one group of people one thing and the Hispanics another, I’m a conservative and I think he’s throwing conservatives under the bus.» [51] Due to his support, members of the Minuteman Project, participating in the Minuteman Project Caravan, traveled to Washington, D.C. to register their disapproval. They made an entry into McCain’s Guest Log Book asking him to uphold the Constitution and enforce the law. After making the entry, the group was forced to leave by a senior staffer for Senator McCain or be reported to the police. [52]

Senator McCain’s position on illegal immigration has arguably resulted in the most criticisms from conservatives. On May 12, 2005, McCain joined Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) as co-sponsor of the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. The bill would legalize and eventually grant citizenship to the estimated 12–20 million illegal aliens in the United States and have them immediately start collecting social security and other government benefits. The bill never came for a vote on the Senate floor. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 are two additional compromises based on the original McCain-Kennedy bill. McCain has consistently voted for visas for skilled workers. McCain voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and has said border security should be a bigger priority then the illegal aliens who are currently here.

Global Trade

McCain has actively supported reducing barriers to trade and has shown leadership in the Senate on Free Trade Agreements (FTA). Senator McCain supports both pending FTAs for Columbia and South Korea. [53] He voted for and defends the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Social Security

McCain is a strong supporter of private Social Security accounts.

Tax Reform

In 2001, McCain gained attention as one of only two Republicans who voted against President Bush’s tax cuts. He opposed accelerating the cuts in 2003, saying, «I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportional amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the deficit.» He has now changed his stance, by voting to make the tax cuts permanent, and says he would do the same as President. In 2002, Senator McCain was one of only two Republicans to twice vote against the permanent repeal of the Death Tax. He has also refused to sign a pledge put forth by Americans for Tax Freedom not to impose any new taxes or increase existing taxes. However, many of McCain’s votes has shown support for lower taxes, such as eliminating the marriage penalty, a 1997 vote to cut capital gains taxes and he introduced measures that would require a sixty-vote majority to pass a tax increase.

Foreign Policy

McCain is a globalist who supports greater international cooperation, including through unaccountable international organizations. [4] He has defended organizations such as the European Union. [4]

National Security

McCain urges the Senate to pass FISA. “For months, House Democrats, the ACLU, and the trial lawyers have held up legislation to modernize our nation’s terrorist surveillance laws. Today, the House passed a compromise bill to end this impasse. While I would have preferred to see the Senate bill enacted, which I voted for earlier this year, I am pleased Congressional leaders and the Administration were able to reach an agreement to reform our current surveillance law and not let FISA expire in August. I hope Senate Democrats will allow this matter to quickly be considered by the Senate and sent to the President for his signature. I will support this measure and hope that politics will be put aside in favor of this vital national security matter.” [54] Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was established in 1978.

McCain has voted in support of the USA PATRIOT Act as well as National Missile Defense. However, he has joined liberals in support of immediately closing Guantanamo Bay, and moving all the prisoners to Fort Leavenworth. On October 3, 2005, he introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment which prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The bill was passed and signed by President George W. Bush. McCain has recently criticized the practice of waterboarding, saying «they should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.» McCain voted against HR 2082, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which included provisions that would have prevented the CIA from water boarding prisoners.


After the September 11, 2001 attacks McCain was a strong advocate for military action in Afghanistan, saying:

We did not cause this war. Our enemies did, and they are to blame for the deprivations and difficulties it occasions. They are to blame for the loss of innocent life. They are to blame for the geopolitical problems confronting our friends and us. We can help repair the damage of war. But to do so, we must destroy the people who started it. [55]

McCain is currently calling for 15,000 additional troops to address the situation in Afghanistan, similar to his victorious 2007 troop surge in Iraq.

McCain has said that «We continue to be concerned about Iranian influence and assistance to Hezbollah as well as Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons.» He tried to ban Iran from playing in the 2006 World Cup, citing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denials.

Senator McCain has strongly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin. During a primary debate he said, «»He bullies his neighbors and he wants to get a control of the energy supply of Western Europe. This is a dangerous person. And he has to understand that there’s a cost to some of his actions.» In 2005 McCain and Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman drafted a resolution banning Russia from attending the Group of 8 (G8) international forum. McCain is also a strong supporter of ballistic national missile defenses.

McCain forcefully supports the Cuban embargo and believes it should be maintained until certain specific political freedoms are restored to the country. [58]

During the Syrian Civil War McCain wanted to arm the Islamist opposition with weapons and also called for an air strike against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. [59]

After the Egyptian dictator Mohammed Morsi was set down, McCain called it a «coup». [60]

During the Ukrainian crisis McCain called U.S. military support for Ukraine «right and decent». He called for President Obama to take actions to restore the United States’ credibility and strength around the world. [61] McCain praised the decision of President Trump to provide anti-tank munitions to Ukraine and called it «another significant step in the right direction». He explained that this action «sends a strong signal that the United States will stand by its allies and partners as they fight to defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity. This decision is years overdue». [62]

Social Issues

Sen. John McCain has more than a twenty-year anti-abortion record, first in the U.S. House of Representatives, then in the U.S. Senate. McCain voted 11 times on anti-abortion and other pro-life issues in the House. Senator McCain has voted 119 times on anti-abortion and other pro-life measures in the Senate. [63]

McCain’s record in the Senate on abortion is pro-life. He voted for the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. McCain has also voted against government funding of birth control and sex education. [64] [65] [66] During his first Presidential campaign for the 2000 election, McCain said the following on Roe v. Wade, «I’d love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.» [67] He has since changed his position, saying Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

  • Voted against a Roe v. Wade resolution
  • Co-sponsored and voted for the Federal Abortion Ban
  • Supported H.R.1997, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act
  • Voted for four anti-abortion U.S. Supreme Court judges
  • Voted for six anti-abortion lower court judges
  • Supported H.R.3913, to prohibit federal funds for abortion services in any case
  • Voted to make it a federal crime for anyone but a parent to cross state lines for abortion termination
  • Voted in favor of a national network of parental notification.


“I do not support Roe v. Wade. It should be overturned.” [68]

  • «I have many, many votes and it’s been consistent. And I’ve got a consistent zero from NARAL throughout all those years….» [69]
  • «My record is clear, and I think the important thing is you look at people’s voting record because sometimes rhetoric can be a little… misleading…. As you know I don’t support Roe v. Wade…. I thought it was a bad decision, and I think that the decision should be made in the states» [70]
  • “I’m proud that we have Justice Alito and Roberts on the United States Supreme Court. I’m very proud to have played a very small role in making that happen.” McCain explained further that he “will try to find clones of Alito and Roberts” to fill future court vacancies. [71]

Gun Control

McCain’s record on gun control is mixed. He co-sponsored the Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001. This act would reduce the number of gun shows, require gun-owners to purchase trigger locks, and allow federal agents to arrest those who violate federal gun laws. However, McCain has frequently voted in support of the Second Amendment, such as voting against background checks at gun shows and voting in support of prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers. In August 1999, McCain said he was open to voting for an assault weapon ban, depending on the details. However, he still voted against the Federal Assault Weapons Ban and the efforts to renew it, as well as the Brady Bill.

A top official of the National Rifle Association said McCain has been a reliable ally of gun owners despite divisions with the powerful lobbying group on some issues. NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told The Associated Press «. We’re not foolish enough to ignore the vast areas of agreement in which John McCain has been a friend to gun owners.» [72] The Republican presidential nominee has voted against a ban on assault-type weapons with restrictions which were objected. In 2013 he voted to block his colleagues’ filibuster and was one of four Republicans who voted for the Manchin-Toomey background checks gun control bill.

Same-sex marriage

In the speech on the Senate floor July 13, 2004, McCain stated “Mr. President, most Americans believe, as I do, that the institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of a man and a woman.» [73] John McCain revealed his decision based on super majority requirements and the current political realities within Congress. “By my count, there is not at this time even a small majority of senators who would vote for Senator Allard’s amendment, much less the 67 votes required by the Constitution. That won’t change, Mr. President, unless public opinion changes significantly. The Founders, wisely, made certain that the Constitution is difficult to amend, and, as a practical political matter, can’t be done without overwhelming public approval. And thank God for that. Were it any easier I fear we could not make the claim for the Constitution’s enduring success that I have just made.» Further, he explained his approach to the amendment’s ultimate success “If a constitution is to be amended, Mr. President, it should be a state constitution.» McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. In May 2008, the California Supreme Court effectively created a ruling to grant same-sex partners equal rights to Marriage and to be recognized by the state. A spokesman for Republican John McCain, who opposes gay marriage, said the Arizona senator «doesn’t believe judges should be making these decisions.»

Senator John McCain’s position on evolution is nuanced:

«I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view, I happen to believe in evolution. . I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not.» [10]

Relationship with conservatives and tea partiers

McCain has had a very strained relationship with the traditional conservative base over the years, with some going as far as to term his relationship with grassroots activists as «vicious». [74] Instead, McCain has seemingly preferred to pal around with liberal journalists.

As early as the 2000 election, McCain’s own aids jokingly used to say that «McCain’s base was the media». [75] Over the years, McCain’s loyalty to conservatives drifted further apart, while he continued to shore up his base in the media. [76] [77]

Bill Cunningham

During a campaign stop for then candidate McCain, Bill Cunningham stated: «at one point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and start covering Barack Hussein Obama.» McCain took offense to these remarks, specifically the use of Obama’s middle name «Hussein», and went on the offense against Cunningham. [78]

Hobbits, Wacko Birds, and more

On July 27th, 2011, McCain derided [79] members of the Tea Party in a speech on the floor of the senate, [80] where he stated his disagreement with «tea party hobbits». The following night, he appeared on Hannity’s show on Fox, and continued to act indignant about his position. [81]

A month later McCain was asked about his «Lord of the Rings» reference, and he still refused to apologize. [82]

When John Brennan was nominated for the position as CIA director, Rand Paul led a filibuster in opposition. He was later joined by senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Jerry Moran, Marco Rubio, Saxby Chambliss, and Pat Toomey. In response, McCain called Paul, Lee, and Cruz «Wacko birds». [83]

Shortly after Jim DeMint left the senate and joined the Heritage Foundation, McCain stated that the organization «just doesn’t have the credibility». [84]

Arizona Purges

Lost in McCain’s high-profile national activity has been what McCain does in his home state of Arizona. [85]

In Arizona, McCain gained considerable ire from conservative activists for his unseating of conservative activists from positions, in order to lay the continued groundwork for his own re-elections. [86] There was some speculation that this was revenge for him being censured by the AZ GOP. [87] [88]

IRS Targeting

On April 9th, 2015, Judicial Watch released documents pointing to pressure against Lois Lerner to target Tea Party groups, seemingly coming from senators Carl Levin and John McCain. [89] [90] McCain was quick to respond on Twitter, stating that the reports were «false». [91] [92]

Personal life

McCain has been married twice. His first marriage, to Carol Shepp, ended in divorce in 1980 after 15 years, of which he spent five in captivity. McCain publicly acknowledges the responsibility for the breakup as his, stating in a 2008 interview with Pastor Rick Warren that «My greatest moral failing, and I have been a very imperfect person, is the failure of my first marriage». [93] His second and current wife is Cindy Lou Hensley, to whom he has been married for 28 years. His son John Sidney IV is a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, and his son James is a non-commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, who is serving in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also, the McCains adopted a ten-week old baby girl in 1993, who they named Bridget, from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh. [94] [95] Cindy McCain was in the country as part of the American Voluntary Medical Team [96] in response to the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone.

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