John McCain: Reaching Across the Aisle
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election. McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.
He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981, moved to Arizona, and entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily in 1992, 1998, and 2004. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a "maverick" for having disagreed with his party. After being investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as a member of the Keating Five, he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, and for his belief that the war in Iraq should be fought to a successful conclusion. McCain has chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, has opposed spending that he considered to be pork barrel, and played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.
McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, but lost a heated primary contest to George W. Bush. He secured the nomination in 2008 after coming back from early reversals, but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election.
Question: What aspect of the Republican platform do you disagree with most?
John McCain:There’s nothing in the platform I particularly disagree with. What I disagree with, and I’m appalled by is our lack of fiscal restraint – our out of control spending. We betrayed the fundamental principles of the Republican party, which is restraint of spending and restraint in the growth of government. We presided over the greatest increase in the size of government since the great society. And we let spending get completely out of control, and our base became dispirited and disenchanted. And we now have such a corrupt system that former members of Congress are residing in federal prison. So that’s frankly . . . And a little straight talk, the president long ago – six years ago – should have started vetoing these big spending bills and he didn’t. And so we got the bridge to nowhere. Question: What aspect of the Democratic platform do you agree with most? McCain: I haven’t examined their platform, but I always admired the belief and commitment of the Democratic party to freedom and democracy all over the world. Henry “Scoop” Jackson who was a leading Democrat was one of my heroes on that. Harry Truman was a man of incredible courage and foresight, which he’s now only getting credit for. I respect the Democrat party’s . . . many of them is advocacy of human rights, and for democracy in many parts of the world. And I think there’s a degree of compassion and caring in the Democratic party that I admire. I don’t admire their big government solutions, but I certainly admire their concern and care for all Americans.
Sen. McCain talks about his agreements and disagreements with both political parties.
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