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World Leaders, Ex-Presidents Pay Tribute To Veteran Senator John McCain, Dead At 81

A Life Remembered: John McCain, War Hero And Political Icon, Dies At 81
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WATCH: A Life Remembered: John McCain, War Hero And Political Icon, Dies At 81

Tributes from former U.S. presidents, lawmakers, and world leaders poured in for U.S. Senator John McCain, a day after the veteran Republican senator, war hero, and former presidential candidate died of brain cancer.

With flags at the White House flying at half staff, President Donald Trump, who frequently clashed with McCain and even mocked his time in captivity in North Vietnam, hailed the Arizona senator.

“My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you,” he said in a post to Twitter.

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, who defeated the Republican senator in the 2008 presidential election, said that "we are all in his debt."

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

British Prime Minister Theresa May said McCain "embodied the idea of service over self," and French President Emmanuel Macron called the senator "a true American hero [whose] voice will be missed."

In Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said McCain stood for an America "that is a reliable and close partner... that takes strong responsibility for others and sticks to its values and principles even at difficult moments."

In a statement released on August 25, his family said McCain had died at 4:28 p.m. in his home state. His wife, Cindy, and other members of his family were present. He died less than 48 hours after his family announced that he was discontinuing treatment for the brain cancer that was first diagnosed in 2017.

McCain will receive a full-dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral, his family said.
News reports said both Obama and former President George W. Bush would speak at his funeral.

Trump, however, will not. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to represent the current administration at the ceremony. Citing family friends, CNN reported that McCain told his family he did not want Trump to attend.

McCain was particularly critical of Trump’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders McCain called foreign "tyrants."

After Trump met Putin in Helsinki in July, McCain castigated Trump, calling their joint news conference "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory."

He said Trump was "not only unable but unwilling to stand up to Putin."

McCain was often praised for his willingness to cooperate with Democrats on difficult issues.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hailed the man many considered a war hero, saying, “We have lost a man who steadfastly represented the best ideals of our country."

McCain, a longtime chairman of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, was considered an expert on defense and foreign policy issues.

In 2017, McCain made a key vote in the Senate to reject Trump’s effort to overturn Obama’s signature health-care plan. That angered Trump.

The son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals, McCain endured almost six years of torture and captivity in a North Vietnam prison after his plane was shot down in 1967 on a mission during the long U.S. war.

After learning of his family connections, his North Vietnamese captors offered him early release in what would have been a propaganda ploy. McCain refused to leave and said those captured before him should be the first to leave.

McCain returned home 5 1/2 years later on crutches and never regained full mobility in his arms and leg.

Early in the 2016 election primary season, before he had secured the Republican nomination, Trump mocked McCain's time in captivity, asserting that he wasn't a war hero because he had been captured by the North Vietnamese.

The vacancy created by McCain's death narrows the number of Republican-held seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate to 50, with Democrats controlling 49.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, was expected to appoint a member of his own party to succeed McCain.

With reporting by AP and Reuters