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John McCain, ex-POW and ‘maverick Republican’, dies at 81

Source Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2008 as a self-styled maverick Republican and became a prominent critic of President Donald Trump, died on Saturday, his office said. He was 81.

A senator for Arizona for more than three decades, McCain had been suffering from glioblastoma, a brain cancer, since July 2017 and had not been at the U.S. Capitol this year.

His family announced on Friday that McCain was discontinuing further cancer treatment.

He died on Saturday afternoon with his wife Cindy and other family members at his bedside. “At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years,” said a statement from his office.

McCain will lie in state in both Phoenix, Arizona, and in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., and will receive a full dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral before being buried in Annapolis, Maryland, his family said.

Paying tribute to his one-time election opponent, former President Barack Obama described McCain as an idealist and said there was “something noble” about their political battles.

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McCain had frequently sparred with President Donald Trump, told his family he did not want Trump to attend his funeral, CNN reported, citing family friends.

Vice President Mike Pence was expected to represent the current administration, the family said.

“My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years,” Cindy McCain wrote on Twitter. “He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best.”

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The vacancy created by McCain’s death narrows the number of Republican-held seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate to 50 seats, with Democrats controlling 49. Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was expected to appoint a member of his own party to succeed McCain.

That could also give Republicans a slight edge in the battle to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in the weeks ahead because McCain had been too ill to cast any votes this year.

Alternatively affable and cantankerous, McCain had been in the public eye since the 1960s when, as a naval aviator, he was shot down during the Vietnam War and tortured by his North Vietnamese communist captors during 5-1/2 years as a prisoner.

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