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John McCain will 'cast a long shadow' - Nation reacts to senator's death

'Rest in peace, Maverick'

Following news that U.S. Sen. John McCain died Saturday afternoon, colleagues and political competitors praised the long-serving senator and Vietnam veteran for his courage and his service.

McCain died Saturday afternoon, a day after his family announced that he had halted treatment for aggressive brain cancer. "The progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict," his family said Friday morning.

Saturday, his office announced his death with a brief statement: "Sen. John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28pm on August 25, 2018. With the senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family. At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for 60 years."

The six-term Arizona senator, who went from defiant prisoner of war to straight-talking Republican presidential candidate and conservative ideologist, died Saturday a little more than a year after doctors diagnosed him with brain cancer. He was 81.

U.S. Rep Raúl Grijalva said that McCain's passing meant the loss of a strong leader. 

"Today, Arizona and the country lost a strong leader and man of great conviction. Sen. McCain was straightforward, passionate, and dedicated to the values of our country. My thoughts are with the McCain family during this difficult time." 

"A fighter to the end, he will be missed by all who value the history and traditions of this nation, now more so than ever," Grijalva said. 

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally called McCain one of Arizona's "greatest Senators, one of our country’s finest statesmen, and an American hero who risked his life to defend this great nation."

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"He loved this state, and he loved this country. I pray that God comforts Cindy and the entire McCain family. My heart is with them, and Arizona grieves with them," said McSally, who's running for Arizona's other Senate seat in the GOP primary.

"Words cannot express the sorrow I feel at John McCain’s passing. The world has lost a hero and a statesman. Cindy and the McCain family have lost a loving husband and father. I have lost a wonderful friend," fellow Arizona Republican Jeff Flake tweeted Saturday.

"Arizona will never be the same," said Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic congresswoman and Senate candiate. "Senator McCain, may you rest in peace, and may comfort come to your family. May comfort come to all of us who grieve this loss to our great country. You are a statesman, a patriot, and our Arizona hero."

"John McCain’s legacy will continue for generations to come," Sinema said. "His commitment to our country, to the pursuit of freedom and truth, and to the values we hold most dear as Americans, have been an inspiration to us all."

"Senator John McCain’s mark on our country will never fade. Thank goodness," she said.

"On this day, our country grieves the loss of Senator John McCain — one of our country's great leaders of our time," said former Democratic congresswoman and current CD2 congressional candidate Ann Kirkpatrick, who lost to McCain in his last Senate election:

All of the powerful actions and influential words of Senator McCain's career boil down to a simple phrase: country first. Like his fathers before him, Senator McCain dedicated his life's work to defending and enhancing our democracy. Senator McCain pushed aside partisan politics when it challenged the constitutional process and our American values. He may have been my toughest opponent at one time, however his respect and dedication to public service and his love for Arizona, is something I strongly admire.

Our country, and our great state of Arizona, was lucky to have him represent us. Roger and I send our sincere condolences and love to his dedicated wife Cindy and their seven children.

Rest in peace, Maverick.

"America lost a great patriot today," former U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said:

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He served his country with distinction, courage and independence. I didn't always agree with the Senator's policies and votes but I never stopped admiring his integrity and understanding of how our democracy and Constitution should work. Who will step up and be our scold about practices, behaviors and tweets that are antithetical to a functioning democracy.

I had the good fortune to fly with him to D.C. from the memorial for the 19 firefighters who died in the horrific forest fire. We talked about Arizona and our mutual love for this beautiful state, saving the A-10s and about his relationship with Mo Udall. When Mo went into an assisted living facility due to his Parkinson's Disease, John McCain visited him frequently to read to Mo and bring him friendship. I long for those bipartisan times and for a person in the White House as caring, informed and thoughtful on complex issues as John McCain. Farewell Senator McCain. You have served us well. Much love to his family who feel this loss so deeply.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags across Arizona to be immediately lowered to half-staff to honor McCain, and said in a statement that McCain was "a giant. An icon. An American hero. But here at home, we were most proud to call him a fellow Arizonan. Like so many of us, he was not born here, but his spirit, service and fierce independence shaped the state with which he became synonymous," Ducey said. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who served in the Senate with McCain for more than two decades, wrote on Facebook that 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," Biden wrote. 

"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," Biden wrote. 

"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," he wrote. "America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly." 

Former President Barack Obama posted on Twitter that while he and McCain contended for the presidency in 2008, they shared the same ideals about holding office. 

"John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the the highest level of politics. But we shared, for all our differences a fidelity to something higher—the ideals for which a generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed," Obama wrote. 

"We saw our political battles, even as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of these high ideas at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible— and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way," said Obama, who defeated McCain in the 2008 presidential race. 

"Few of us been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family," Obama wrote.

"Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled," former President George W. Bush said.

"John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I'll deeply miss. Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain," said Bush, who defeated McCain in the Republican presidential primary race in 2000.

Fromer President Bill Clinton and ex-senator, secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said, "Senator John McCain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our Constitution, and from his heroic service in the Navy to his 35 years in Congress, he lived by his creed every day.  He was a skilled, tough politician, as well as a trusted colleague alongside whom Hillary was honored to serve in the Senate.  He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do.  I will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with Vietnam.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, his mother, Roberta, his children, and his entire family."

"My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!," President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday, after McCain's death was announced.

"John McCain personifies service to our country," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Friday.

"No man this century better exemplifies honor, patriotism, service, sacrifice, and country first than Senator John McCain. His heroism inspires, his life shapes our character. I am blessed and humbled by our friendship," former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday.

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Local leaders also offered remembrances of McCain.

"Senator John McCain was an honorable man who served his country well. He was a war hero. He was a skilled politician of many decades who was noted for taking an unrelenting stand on principles to which he was devoted. He will be missed," said Richard Elías, chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.

"This is a terribly sad day for Arizona and the nation. John McCain served his nation with honor and dignity his entire life. I've always enjoyed my many meetings with him and I have held him in the highest regard as a public servant and as a decent human being," said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. "Though he was a national leader, he never forgot that he was the senior senator from Arizona and we could always count on him to represent the best interests of Pima County in the Congress. I will miss him."

Felecia Rotellini, Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, released the following statement:

Like many Arizonans, we're saddened to hear the news of U.S. Senator John McCain's passing. His fight against what is one of the most heartless diseases in our world was courageous. John McCain is and will always be an American hero. He will be remembered as a statesman, a friend to all and a generous humanitarian. John McCain's voice in Washington and his conduct fully exemplified what it means to be a true Arizonan.

John McCain has played a major role in our nation's and state's histories. Many of us vividly remember his extended years in captivity — badly beaten and tortured by our enemies — and how he demonstrated courage and leadership by never breaking. His service and dedication to our state, his humor and love of sports will be missed. During his decades of holding public office, McCain has represented Arizona on a national and international level with sophistication, and even though we've often disagreed with him politically, Arizona Democrats have always respected his independent streak and willingness to fight for election reform, veterans' rights and human rights.

The Arizona Democratic Party sends its heartfelt condolences to the McCain family during this difficult time.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence issued their own statement, praising McCain's service to the United States. 

“While we may not have always agreed with Sen. John McCain on most gun issues, we always knew he was a man of honor, as proven by his long and storied life in public service," wrote Max Samis, the group's spokesman. 

"Sen. McCain made a point to stand by his convictions, whether it was in service in Vietnam, or bucking party leadership to sponsor a bill expanding background checks to include private gun sales at gun shows. He represented the best of America like few before or after. Our hearts are with the McCain family today," wrote Samis. 

Steve Farley, a member of the Arizona Senate and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, called McCain a "American war hero," 

"No one has served our nation and the state of Arizona with more conviction and purpose than Senator John McCain. From fighting for American values abroad as a U.S. Navy pilot and master of international relations, to standing up for Arizona’s rights here at home in the United States Senate, John was a maverick in the best sense of the word, often working across the aisle to fight for what he believed was best for our state and all Americans," Farley wrote. 

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"I, along with all my fellow Arizonans, are devastated to hear of his passing and wish the best to his family, especially Cindy and Meghan, during these extremely difficult times," he said. 

David Garcia, a Democratic candidate for governor, wrote that McCain was "great man and a great Arizonan who committed his life in the most remarkable and respectable ways to the service of others and his country." 

"From the military to the Senate he was a brave and honorable person. May he rest in peace," Garcia said. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

John McCain in Nogales, Arizona as part of a 'Gang of 8' tour with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Jeff Flake.