John McCain

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Your character is not tested on occasions of public scrutiny or acclaim. It is not tested in moments when the object of your actions is the regard of another. Your character is what you are to yourself, not what you pretend to be to yourself or others.

John Sidney McCain III (29 August 1936 - 25 August 2018) was an American politician from the U.S. state of Arizona. A member of the Republican Party, McCain was a member of the United States Senate since 1987, winning re-election in 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010. McCain was a U.S. presidential candidate in the 2000 election, but was defeated in the Republican primaries by George W. Bush. McCain was once again a Republican candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, and although he won the Republican nomination, he lost in the general election to Barack H. Obama II, who went on to become the 44th U.S. president.


I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land. I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way.
I was in a conference in Germany over the weekend and president Putin of Germany gave one of the old Cold War style speeches.
You are blessed. Make the most of it.
No one of good character leaves behind a wasted life.
Human beings are still capable of violence and cruelty. We all succumb to sin.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
There is nothing that's off the table. I have my positions and I'll articulate them.
I will work with anyone who sincerely wants to get this country moving again. I will listen to any idea that is offered in good faith and intended to help solve our problems, not make them worse.
I've got to give you some straight talk.
I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.
America, the only nation ever founded in the name of liberty.
We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.
I would rather have a clean government, than one where 'First Amendment rights' are being respected, that has become corrupt.
Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war.
I will fight, but we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, I will respect him. I want everyone to be respectful, and let's make sure we are, because that's the way politics should be conducted in America.
You know that there’s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street.
I'm glad whenever they cut interest rates, I wish interest rates were zero.
He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about.
America is the greatest force for good in the history of the world.
Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. We’ve wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives.
People have come to this country from everywhere, and people from everywhere have made America great.
Respect for the God-given dignity of every human being, no matter their race, ethnicity or other circumstances of their birth, is the essence of American patriotism. To believe otherwise is to oppose the very idea of America.
As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you.
We're no longer staring into the abyss of defeat and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success.
We're Americans, and we'll never surrender. They will.
We are always, despite our advances, only one sin away from slipping into the abyss of terror and ignorance.
I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.
Bomb, bomb! Bomb, Iran!
It's a tough war we're in. It's not going to be over right away.
War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.
They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another.
I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the best candidate able to lead the country and defend our political values.
Maybe that's a way of killing them.
Obama's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about western Pennsylvania lately. I couldn't agree with them more.
This is a moral debate. It is about who we are. I don’t mourn the loss of any terrorist's life.
I spent five and a half years in prison. The worst part was coming home and finding out Green Acres had been cancelled. What the hell was I fighting for?
I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.
I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a 'K', a 'G', and a 'B'.


  • I can't believe a guy that handsome wouldn't have some impact.
    • On George H. W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle as VP nominee, as quoted in "Bush taps Quayle for VP" (17 August 1988), by Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian, p. A01.


  • America, the only nation ever founded in the name of liberty, never had a more ardent champion of liberty than Barry Goldwater. Simply put, Barry Goldwater was in love with freedom.
  • Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.
    • GOP fund-raiser, Washington D.C., (June 1998)[1][2][3]
  • Glory is not a conceit. It is not a decoration for valor. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you in return.

Speech at Ohio Wesleyan University (1997)[edit]

Address at Ohio Wesleyan University (11 May 1997)
  • The times we live in are alternately derided for their failings and romanticized for their emerging opportunities. It sometimes seems that we now live amid greater violence, greater uncertainty; that the world suffers more conflicts and tragedies; that the poor are poorer and greater in number; that race, ethnicity and nationalism divide us more intractably than ever before.
    But that is not so. Human beings are still capable of violence and cruelty. We all succumb to sin. But look back at any preceding century or even just a few decades, and you will see cruelty, violence and misery on a scale that is, with few exceptions, unknown today.
  • Mankind has advanced. Human progress is ceaseless. We can look at Bosnia or Zaire or Rwanda and conclude that building just societies is a fool's errand. We are always, despite our advances, only one sin away from slipping into the abyss of terror and ignorance.
    But that is not so. Generations upon generations have driven the human race farther and farther from darkness. Past episodes of abominable human cruelty are kept vivid in the memories of succeeding generations. "Never again," is the admonition passed from the survivors of the Holocaust to their descendants and to us all. And although such an important reminder will not always prevent the occurrence of cruelty and violence even at levels approaching genocide, the civilized world is more inclined to organize opposition to such tragedies if not as early as we should, at least sooner than we once would have.
  • No one of good character leaves behind a wasted life — whether they die in obscurity or renown. "Character," wrote the 19th Century evangelist, Dwight Moody, "is what you are in the dark." Your character is not tested on occasions of public scrutiny or acclaim. It is not tested in moments when the object of your actions is the regard of another. Your character is what you are to yourself, not what you pretend to be to yourself or others. Although human beings often attempt self-delusion, we cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves from ourselves. It will make itself known to us by means of our conscience despite our most strenuous effort to suppress it.
  • Like most people of my age, I feel a longing for what is lost and cannot be restored. But if the happy pursuits and casual beauty of youth prove ephemeral, something better can endure, and endure until our last moment on earth. And that is the honor we earn and the love we give if at a moment in our lives we sacrifice for something greater than self-interest.
    We cannot choose the moments. They arrive unbidden by us. We can choose to let the moments pass, and avoid the difficulties they entail. But the loss we would incur by that choice is much dearer than the tribute we once paid to vanity and pleasure.
  • You have at hand many examples of good character from whom you will have learned the lessons by which you can live your own lives. You are blessed. Make the most of it.


  • I spent five and a half years in prison. The worst part was coming home and finding out Green Acres had been cancelled. What the hell was I fighting for?
  • I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.
    • Statement about his North Vietnamese prison guards, in response to a question asked by reporters aboard his campaign bus. (17 February 2000) He later refused to apologize for using a racial slur, stating: "I was referring to my prison guards, and I will continue to refer to them in language that might offend some people because of the beating and torture of my friends." San Francisco Chronicle (18 February 2000)
  • By 2008, I think I might be ready to go down to the old soldiers home and await the cavalry charge there.
  • The vice president has two duties. One is to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and the other is to attend the funerals of third world dictators. And neither of those do I find an enjoyable exercise.
    • In response to question by Tim Russert on how he would respond if George W. Bush asked him to be his vice presidential running mate in 2000. Interview on Meet the Press. Originally aired 3 March 2000. Aired again as a clip 15 June 2008 (transcript).
  • I am reminded of the words of Chairman Mao: It's always darkest before it goes completely black.


  • There is some indication, and I don’t have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq.
    • David Letterman (18 October 2001), linking anthrax attacks in the U.S. to Iraq.


  • Because I know that as successful as I believe we will be, and I believe that the success [in Iraq] will be fairly easy, we will still lose some American young men or women. And that's a great tragedy.
Worth the Fighting For (2002)[edit]
  • Many families could not and should not have been expected to abandon hope that their sons, husbands, and brothers who had disappeared in the jungles of Vietnam might yet be returned to them. And many good people, who shared their hope and had come to their assistance, were motivated by the most admirable of intentions, to keep faith with Americans who had done all that duty asked of them. But these good intentions and understandable emotions also drew the attention of people with less honorable purposes. There came to exist in America, and elsewhere in the years that followed the Vietnam War, a small cottage industry made up of swindlers, dime-store Rambos, and just plain old conspiracy nuts who preyed on the emotions of the families and on the attention of officials who were dedicated to the search for our missing. They had helped convince many of the families and a few members of Congress that the US. government had knowingly abandoned American servicemen in Vietnam and that five successive presidential administrations had covered up the crime. It was among the most damaging and most hurtful of all the lies about the Vietnam War that I ever encountered.
    • pp. 235 - 236
  • I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in, or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president.
    • p. 373


  • When you’re in the midst, it feels like it will never end. But you keep going and moving forward—and suddenly you’re looking back on the pain rather than living it.
    • As quoted in Stronger, by Cindy McCain
Speech at the Republican National Convention (2004)[edit]
Speech at the Republican National Convention (30 August 2004)
  • The awful events of September 11, 2001 declared a war we were vaguely aware of, but hadn't really comprehended how near the threat was, and how terrible were the plans of our enemies.
    It's a big thing, this war.
    It's a fight between a just regard for human dignity and a malevolent force that defiles an honorable religion by disputing God's love for every soul on earth. It's a fight between right and wrong, good and evil.
    And should our enemies acquire for their arsenal the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek, this war will become a much bigger thing.
    So it is, whether we wished it or not, that we have come to the test of our generation, to our rendezvous with destiny.
    And much is expected of us.
    We are engaged in a hard struggle against a cruel and determined adversary.
    Our enemies have made clear the danger they pose to our security and to the very essence of our culture ...liberty.
    Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war.
    Like all wars, this one will have its ups and downs.
    But we must fight. We must.
  • As we've been a good friend to other countries in moments of shared perils, so we have good reason to expect their solidarity with us in this struggle. That is what the President believes.
    And, thanks to his efforts we have received valuable assistance from many good friends around the globe, even if we have, at times, been disappointed with the reactions of some. I don't doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours.
  • What our enemies have sought to destroy is beyond their reach. It cannot be taken from us. It can only be surrendered.
    My friends, we are again met on the field of political competition with our fellow countrymen. It is more than appropriate, it is necessary that even in times of crisis we have these contests, and engage in spirited disagreement over the shape and course of our government.
    We have nothing to fear from each other. We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, and promote the general welfare. But it should remain an argument among friends who share an unshaken belief in our great cause, and in the goodness of each other.
    We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always. Let us argue our differences. But remember we are not enemies, but comrades in a war against a real enemy, and take courage from the knowledge that our military superiority is matched only by the superiority of our ideals, and our unconquerable love for them.
    Our adversaries are weaker than us in arms and men, but weaker still in causes. They fight to express a hatred for all that is good in humanity.
    We fight for love of freedom and justice, a love that is invincible. Keep that faith. Keep your courage. Stick together. Stay strong.
    Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight.
    We're Americans.
    We're Americans, and we'll never surrender.
    They will.


  • I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence. And I don't pretend to know exactly Iraqi public opinion. But as soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be.
    • As quoted in MSNBC (31 January 2005)
  • I am sure that Senator Clinton would make a good president. I happen to be a Republican and would support, obviously, a Republican nominee, but I have no doubt that Senator Clinton would make a good president.
  • General Myers seems to assume that things have gone well in Iraq. General Myers seems to assume that the American people, the support for our conflict there is not eroding. General Myers seems to assume that everything has gone fine and our declarations of victory, of which there have been many, have not had an impact on American public opinion.
    Things have not gone as we had planned or expected, nor as we were told by you, General Myers. And that's why I'm very worried, because I think we have to win this conflict.
  • I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.


  • They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.
  • I don’t know if I would want him as vice president. He and I have the same strengths. But to serve in other capacities? Hell, yeah.
  • I work in Washington and I know that money corrupts. And I and a lot of other people were trying to stop that corruption. Obviously, from what we've been seeing lately, we didn't complete the job. But I would rather have a clean government than one where 'First Amendment rights' are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government.


  • [I]n the words of Chairman Mao, 'It's darkest before it's totally black.'
    • In response to a reporter's question, "Which is more likely: making progress in Iraq or you winning the nomination?" (July 2007) [5]
  • Contracting a fatal disease.
    • In response to a reporter's question, "Are there any circumstances under which you could imagine yourself not still being a candidate when the presidential primaries are held?" (July 2007) [5]
  • While I don't in any way question your honor, your patriotism or your service to our country, I do question some of the decisions, the judgments you’ve made over the past two and a half years. During that time things have gotten markedly and progressively worse.
    • To General George Casey in his confirmation hearing as the nominee for Army Chief of Staff, before the Senate Armed Services Committee (1 February 2007) [2]
  • We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement -- that's the kindest word I can give you -- of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war. The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously. I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.
  • I'm not running for president to be somebody, but to do something; to do the hard but necessary things not the easy and needless things.
  • [On presidential candidates not condemning the controversial ad in The New York Times.] If you're not tough enough to repudiate a scurrilous, outrageous attack such as that, then I don't know how you're tough enough to be president of the United States.
  • I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the best candidate able to lead the country and defend our political values.
    • upon calling the reporter after said interview, to clarify his position
  • I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.
    • Criticizing Hillary Clinton's health-care plan as being "eerily reminiscent" of the plan she advocated as First Lady, 11 October 2007 [3]
  • I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time.
    • In Republican presidential debate, Orlando, Florida, 21 October 2007 [4]
  • Our recommitment to Afghanistan must include increasing NATO forces, suspending the debilitating restrictions on when and how those forces can fight, expanding the training and equipping of the Afghan National Army through a long-term partnership with NATO to make it more professional and multiethnic, and deploying significantly more foreign police trainers.
  • I just want to also say that Congressman Paul, I've heard him now in many debates talk about bringing our troops home, and about the war in Iraq and how it's failed. And I want to tell you that that kind of isolationism, sir, is what caused World War II. We allowed... We allowed -- we allowed Hitler to come to power with that kind of attitude of isolationism and appeasement.
    • The CNN/YouTube Republican presidential debate [5]
  • The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should. I’ve got Greenspan’s book.... I've never been involved in Wall Street, I've never been involved in the financial stuff, the financial workings of the country, so I'd like to have somebody intimately familiar with it.
    • Referring to a potential Vice President, 18 December 2007 [6][7]


  • I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a 'K', a 'G', and a 'B'.
  • There is no greater vocation than to serve. But there is no greater purpose than to love. Live a life that does both, and you’ll be truly happy.
    • Letter of advice to British diplomat Tom Fletcher's son. [8]
  • Maybe 100. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, it's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.
    • When asked at a town hall meeting prior to the 2008 New Hampshire Primary about a Bush statement that U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 50 years. 3 January 2008 [9]
  • I've got to give you some straight talk: Some of the jobs that have left the state of Michigan are not coming back. They are not. And I am sorry to tell you that.
  • I love him dearly. On issues of economics and … family values, there's nobody that I know that's stronger.
    • On campaign economic adviser Phil Gramm; 18 January 2008; [11]
  • It's a tough war we're in. It's not going to be over right away. There's going to be other wars. I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars. And right now - we're gonna have a lot of PTSD to treat, my friends. We're gonna have a lot of combat wounds that have to do with these terrible explosive IEDs that inflict such severe wounds. And my friends, it's gonna be tough, we're gonna have a lot to do.
  • I have a clear record, both publicly and privately, of saying Alito and Roberts are what we want on the Supreme Court.
  • Anybody who believes the surge has not succeeded, militarily, politically and in most other ways, frankly, does not know the facts on the ground.
  • As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed.
  • As you know, there are al-Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they're moving back into Iraq.
    • The Hugh Hewitt Show. 2008-03-17, [16]
  • Let me say that no one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.
  • We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong. I was wrong. And eventually realized that, in time to give full support for a state holiday in Arizona. I'd remind you we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing, and Dr. King understood this about his fellow Americans
  • We're no longer staring into the abyss of defeat and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success.
    • During General David Petraeus’ testimony before Congress on the military “surge” strategy in Iraq. 8 April 2008 [18]
  • I think if you look at the overall record and millions of jobs have been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that there's been great progress economically over that period of time. But that's no comfort. That's no comfort to families now that are facing these tremendous economic challenges. But let me just add, Peter, the fundamentals of America's economy are strong.
  • In all candor, if I'd been President of the United States, I'd have ordered the plane landed at the nearest Air Force base, and I'd have been over here, ok?
    • On how he would have acted when Katrina made landfall if he had been president, LA Times, despite being in Arizona with Pres. Bush during Katrina's landfall [19]; 25 April 2008
  • To state the obvious, I thought it was wrong at the time... those statements and comments did not comport with the facts on the ground. … But do I blame [the President] for that specific banner? I can't blame him for that.
  • I made it very clear, at that time, before and after, that we will not negotiate with terrorist organizations, that Hamas would have to abandon their terrorism, their advocacy to the extermination of the state of Israel, and be willing to negotiate in a way that recognizes the right of the state of Israel and abandons their terrorist position and advocacy.
  • If I am elected President, I will work with anyone who sincerely wants to get this country moving again. I will listen to any idea that is offered in good faith and intended to help solve our problems, not make them worse. I will seek the counsel of members of Congress from both parties in forming government policy before I ask them to support it. I will ask Democrats to serve in my administration. My administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability. I will hold weekly press conferences. I will regularly brief the American people on the progress our policies have made and the setbacks we have encountered. When we make errors, I will confess them readily, and explain what we intend to do to correct them. I will ask Congress to grant me the privilege of coming before both houses to take questions, and address criticism, much the same as the Prime Minister of Great Britain appears regularly before the House of Commons.
  • We have drawn down to pre-surge levels.
    • 29 May 2008 (a time when troops were not yet at pre-surge levels); YouTube; see below for attempted recovery the following day
  • Let me just say again, We have drawn down. Three of the five brigades are home. The Marines, the additional Marines are home. By the end of July, they will have been back.
    • Restating his position that U.S. troops in Iraq have been drawn down to pre-surge levels; 30 May 2008; see above for misquote he was defending [20]
  • Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war.
    • Campaign ad, quoted in Newsweek (23 June 2008), p. 21
  • And I stopped beating my wife just a couple of weeks ago…
    • Trying to make a joke, 26 June 2008 [21]
  • Maybe that’s a way of killing them.
    • Making a wisecrack about the health impact of cigarette smoking on Iran's citizens, 8 July 2008
  • L.A. Times: You voted against coverage of birth control, [against] forcing health insurance companies to cover birth control in the past. Is that, is that still your position?
    John McCain: I'll look at my voting record on it, but … I don‘t recall the vote.
    L.A.Times: [Your campaign advisor's] statement was that it was unfair that health insurance companies [are forced by the government to] cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?
    John McCain: I don‘t know enough about it … I hadn‘t thought about it much.
    • On McCain campaign advisor and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina's presenting mandatory birth control coverage as McCain's own position: "Many health insurance plans cover Viagra, but won‘t cover birth control medications. Those women would like a choice." [22]
  • Vietnam vet: We haven't heard why you voted against your colleagues' proposals to increase health care funding in 2004, '05, '06, and '07, when we had troops coming back from two wars.
    Madow: Instead of the answer the questioner is looking for, McCain now takes credit for the GI bill and takes a political shot at Jim Webb.
    McCain: On the issue of the GI bill, I was disappointed that Senator Webb didn't support making it permanent. Senator Graham, other veterans and I will be looking to extend that to all veterans, not just 2001. I hope you'll urge Senator Webb to agree with that.
    McCain: I received every award from every major veterans' organization in America. The reason is I have a perfect voting record from organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and all the other veterans service organizations because of my support of them.
    Vietnam vet: You do not have a perfect voting record by the DIV and the VFW. That's where these votes [of yours against increasing vet health care] are recorded. The votes were proposals by your colleagues in the Senate to increase health care funding of the VA in 2003, '04, '05, and '06 for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and you voted against those proposals. I can give you specific Senate votes, the numbers of those Senate votes right now.
    McCain: I thank you, and I'll examine your version of what my voting record is, but again, I've been endorsed in every election by all of the veterans' organizations that do that. I've been supported by them, and I've received their highest rewards, from all of those organizations, so I guess they don't know something you know.
    Rieckoff: [McCain's] voting record is not very strong. The Disabled American Veterans gave him a 20% rating out of 100. Our organization, the IAVA, gave him a D rating in the last voting session. He does not have a perfect voting record from the VFW. He's consistently voted against increased funding of the VA, and he's been a major opponent of the new GI bill.
    • Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans for America and author of Chasing Ghosts, on Countdown, discussing a town hall exchange between McCain and another Vietnam vet; 9 July 2008; [23]
    • IAVA ratings: McCain: D; Obama: B+ [24]; DAV: McCain: 20%; Obama: 80%; the AL and VFW don't perform such voting record ratings [25] [26]
  • I was concerned about a couple of steps that the Russian government took in the last several days. One was reducing the energy supplies to Czechoslovakia.
    • In remarks to the press in Phoenix, 14 July 2008; [27] [28]
  • The first telephones cost a thousand dollars and they were about that big! We all remember that!
  • Diane Sawyer: Do you agree the situation in Afghanistan is precarious and urgent?
    McCain: Well, I think it‘s very serious. I think it‘s a serious situation.
    Sawyer: Not precarious and urgent?
    McCain: Oh, I don‘t know exactly—run through the vocabulary. But it‘s a very serious situation. But there‘s a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I‘m afraid that it‘s a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border.
    • Good Morning America interview, after recent news that escalating insurgency and violent incidents had left around 2,500 people dead (over 700 of them civilians) since January of the same year in Afghanistan; 21 July 2008; [29]
  • There is nothing that's off the table. I have my positions and I'll articulate them. But nothing's off the table.
    • In response to a question regarding the possibility of payroll tax increases under a McCain presidency, 27 July 2008 [30]
  • I will not raise your taxes, nor support a tax increase.
  • At the moment of conception.
    • Question: "At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?"
    • Saddleback Civil Forum with Pastor Rich Warren, 18 August 2008 [31]
  • I think — I’ll have my staff get to you. It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.
    • When asked in an interview how many houses he and Mrs. McCain owned, 20 August 2008
  • Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.
  • You know that there’s been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street. And it is – it’s – people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals are – of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times. And I promise you, we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. We will reform government.
  • I don't know if you could ever say, quote "mission accomplished," as much as you could say "Americans are out of harm's way."
    • On George W. Bush's address aboard a ship with a banner reading "mission accomplished" behind him, at a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.[35] (1 May 2008)
  • I believe that Carly Fiorina is a role model to millions of young American women. She started out as a part-time secretary and she ended up a CEO of one of the major corporations in America. I’m proud of her record and so I want everybody to know that Carly Fiorina is a person that I admire and respect.
  • Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me. We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved. I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.
    • Speaking to reporters in New York, regarding the need to pass legislation concerning the economic crisis, 24 September 2008 [37]
  • And we want a fight, and I will fight, but we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, I will respect him and I want— [crowd boos] No, no, I want everyone to be respectful, and let's make sure we are, because that's the way politics should be conducted in America.
  • Q: My wife and I are expecting our first child, in April 2nd, next year. And frankly, we're scared. We're scared of an Obama presidency...
    John McCain: First of all, I want to be President of the United States and obviously, I don't want Senator Obama to be. But, I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States. Now, I just— [crowd boos] Now look, if I didn't think I would be one heck of a lot better president I wouldn't be runnin', okay, and that's the point.
  • Q: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not, he's not, he's a, uh— he's an Arab. He's not— [McCain shakes head] No?
    John McCain: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not. Thank you.
  • You may have noticed that Senator Obama's supporters have been saying some pretty nasty things about western Pennsylvania lately. And you know, I couldn't agree with them more.
Concession speech (2008)[edit]
Concession speech (4 November 2008)
  • Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.
    These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.
    I urge all Americans … I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited. Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
  • I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
2008 Republican National Convention (2008)[edit]
Transcript by CNN
  • A word to Sen. Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it -- we'll go at it over the next two months -- you know that's the nature of this business -- and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and my admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that's an association that means more to me than any other. We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. No country -- no country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Sen. Obama and his supporters for their achievement.
  • All you've ever asked of your government is to stand on your side and not in your way. And that's what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future.
  • I've found just the right partner to help me shake up Washington, Gov. Sarah Palin of the great state of Alaska. ... She has an executive experience and a real record of accomplishment. She's tackled tough problems, like energy independence and corruption. She's balanced a budget, cut taxes, and she's taken on the special interests. She's reached across the aisle and asked Republicans, Democrats, and independents to serve in her administration. She's the wonderful mother of five children. She's -- she's helped run a small business. She's worked with her hands and knows -- and knows what it's like to worry about mortgage payments, and health care, and the cost of gasoline and groceries. She knows where she comes from, and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what's right, and she doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down.
  • Change is coming.
  • I don't work for myself. I work for you. I've fought corruption, and it didn't matter if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. They violated their public trust, and they had to be held accountable.
  • I've fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq when it wasn't the popular thing to do.
  • I don't mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I've had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.
  • I fight for the family of Matthew Stanley of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Matthew died serving our country in Iraq. I wear his bracelet and think of him every day. I intend to honor their sacrifice by making sure the country their son loved so well and never returned to remains safe from its enemies.
  • We lost -- we lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties -- and Sen. Obama -- passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust when we valued our power over our principles. We're going to change that.
  • In this country, we believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential, from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We're all God's children, and we're all Americans. We believe -- we believe in low taxes, spending discipline, and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk-takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor.
  • Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have the choice, and their children will have that opportunity. Sen. Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucrats. I want schools to answer to parents and students.
  • Sen. Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and restore the health of our planet.
  • We have dealt a serious blow to Al Qaeda in recent years, but they're not defeated, and they'll strike us again, if they can. Iran remains the chief state sponsor of terrorism and is on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • Russia's leaders, rich with oil wealth and corrupt with power, have rejected democratic ideals and the obligations of a responsible power. They invaded a small, democratic neighbor to gain more control over the world's oil supply, intimidate other neighbors, and further their ambitions of re-assembling the Russian empire.
  • We face many dangerous threats in this dangerous world, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them.
  • I know how to secure the peace.
  • I hate war. It's terrible beyond imagination.
  • In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us; we don't need to search for it.
  • The -- the constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isn't a cause. It's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not for you.
  • I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn't thank God for the privilege.
  • I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice, and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again; I wasn't my own man anymore; I was my country's.
  • Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier, because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.


  • Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man.


  • The U.S. does not involve itself in what is happening in the world's largest democracy, nor does it intend to do so.
    • Describing India's democracy as "strong and successful", and brushed off the allegation of Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi, who objected if the U.S. is involved in India's protests.


  • Osama bin Laden’s welcome death has ignited debate over whether the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used on enemy prisoners were instrumental in locating bin Laden, and whether they are a justifiable means for gathering intelligence.
    Much of this debate is a definitional one: whether any or all of these methods constitute torture. I believe some of them do, especially waterboarding, which is a mock execution and thus an exquisite form of torture. As such, they are prohibited by American laws and values, and I oppose them. … Mistreatment of enemy prisoners endangers our own troops, who might someday be held captive. While some enemies, and al-Qaeda surely, will never be bound by the principle of reciprocity, we should have concern for those Americans captured by more conventional enemies, if not in this war then in the next.
  • Though it took a decade to find bin Laden, there is one consolation for his long evasion of justice: He lived long enough to witness what some are calling the Arab Spring, the complete repudiation of his violent ideology.
    As we debate how the United States can best influence the course of the Arab Spring, can’t we all agree that the most obvious thing we can do is stand as an example of a nation that holds an individual’s human rights as superior to the will of the majority or the wishes of government? Individuals might forfeit their life as punishment for breaking laws, but even then, as recognized in our Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, they are still entitled to respect for their basic human dignity, even if they have denied that respect to others.
    • "Bin Laden’s death and the debate over torture" in The Washington Post (11 May 2011)
  • This is a moral debate. It is about who we are. I don’t mourn the loss of any terrorist’s life. What I do mourn is what we lose when by official policy or official neglect we confuse or encourage those who fight this war for us to forget that best sense of ourselves. Through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss, we are always Americans, and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us.
    • As quoted in "Bin Laden's death and the debate over torture" (11 May 2011), The Washington Post
  • We did not learn Abu Ahmed’s real name or alias as a result of waterboarding or any "enhanced interrogation technique" used on a detainee in U.S. custody. None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts, or an accurate description of his role in Al-Qaeda. … In fact, not only did the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed not provide us with key leads on bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed; it actually produced false and misleading information. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed specifically told his interrogators that Abu Ahmed had moved to Peshawar, got married, and ceased his role as an Al-Qaeda facilitator — which was not true, as we now know. … It was not torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden. … we are again engaged in this important debate, with much at stake for America’s security and reputation. Each side should make its own case, but do so without making up its own facts.


  • You know, it's interesting for the president to say something that juvenile. I'm not picking on anyone. Again, as we just said, four Americans died! Is that picking on anybody when you want to place responsibility and find out what happened so that we can make sure it doesn't happen again?
    • On the Record w/Greta van Susteren, Fox News, 2012-11-14
    • regarding McCain's opposition to the potential nomination of ambassador Susan Rice to Secretary of State over her statements about the 2012 Benghazi attack, and President Obama saying in a 2012-11-14 press conference, "If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the United Nations ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intel she had received, and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."


  • The president, comparing him to a kid in the back of a classroom, I think, is very indicative of the president’s lack of appreciation of who Vladimir Putin is. He’s an old KGB colonel that has no illusions about our relationship, does not care about a relationship with the United States, continues to oppress his people, continues to act in an autocratic fashion.



  • While I suppose this means I’ll spend this Easter in Sedona rather than Siberia, I couldn’t be more proud of being sanctioned by Vladimir Putin for standing up for freedom and human rights for the Russian people and against Putin’s deadly aggression in Ukraine. I will never stop my efforts to support democracy, free speech, and the rule of law in Russia,


  • I don't give a damn what the President of the United States wants to do or what anybody else wants to do. We will not waterboard; we will not torture... We will not torture people... It doesn't work, my friends. It doesn't work. If you inflict enough pain on somebody long enough, they're going to tell you whatever they think you want to hear to have it stopped... There are accomplished interrogators who can gain the confidence of the suspect and gain all the information that they could possibly want... My God, what does it say about America if we're going to inflict torture on people? It makes it hard for us to make the argument about the moral superiority of our way of our government and our way of life.
Statement regarding the Khan family (1 August 2016)[edit]
Statement regarding Donald Trump's comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of U.S. Army captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 (transcript by CNN)
  • I wear a bracelet bearing the name of a fallen hero, Matthew Stanley, which his mother, Lynn, gave me in 2007, at a town hall meeting in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. His memory and the memory of our great leaders deserve better from me.
  • Make no mistake: I do not valorize our military out of some unfamiliar instinct. I grew up in a military family, and have my own record of service, and have stayed closely engaged with our armed forces throughout my public career. In the American system, the military has value only inasmuch as it protects and defends the liberties of the people.
  • My father was a career naval officer, as was his father. For hundreds of years, every generation of McCains has served the United States in uniform. My sons serve today, and I'm proud of them. My youngest served in the war that claimed Captain Khan's life as well as in Afghanistan. I want them to be proud of me. I want to do the right thing by them and their comrades.
  • Humayun Khan did exactly that — and he did it for all the right reasons. This accomplished young man was not driven to service as a United States Army officer because he was compelled to by any material need. He was inspired as a young man by his reading of Thomas Jefferson — and he wanted to give back to the country that had taken him and his parents in as immigrants when he was only two years old.
  • Scripture tells us that 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' Captain Humayun Khan of the United States Army showed in his final moments that he was filled and motivated by this love. His name will live forever in American memory, as an example of true American greatness.
  • In the end, I am morally bound to speak only to the things that command my allegiance, and to which I have dedicated my life's work: the Republican Party, and more importantly, the United States of America. I will not refrain from doing my utmost by those lights simply because it may benefit others with whom I disagree. I claim no moral superiority over Donald Trump. I have a long and well-known public and private record for which I will have to answer at the Final Judgment, and I repose my hope in the promise of mercy and the moderation of age. I challenge the nominee to set the example for what our country can and should represent.
  • While our Party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.
  • I'd like to say to Mr. and Mrs. Khan: thank you for immigrating to America. We're a better country because of you. And you are certainly right; your son was the best of America, and the memory of his sacrifice will make us a better nation -- and he will never be forgotten.


We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve [...] democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, [...] we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time.
  • Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.

    It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.

    Such a hasty process risks harmful results. We should not stop green-card holders from returning to the country they call home. We should not stop those who have served as interpreters for our military and diplomats from seeking refuge in the country they risked their lives to help. And we should not turn our backs on those refugees who have been shown through extensive vetting to pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children.

    Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism. At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL. But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Our most important allies in the fight against ISIL are the vast majority of Muslims who reject its apocalyptic ideology of hatred. This executive order sends a signal, intended or not, that America does not want Muslims coming into our country. That is why we fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security.

  • Putin's Russia is our adversary and moral opposite. It is committed to the destruction of the post-war, rule-based, world order built on American leadership and the primacy of our political and economic values…There is no placating Putin. There is no transforming him from a gangster to a responsible statesman. Previous administrations have tried and failed not because they didn’t try hard enough, but because Putin wants no part of it... Oppose Russian aggression against the world we have built from the ruined cities and destroyed empires of World War II. Don’t surrender the gains for our security and the progress for humanity that our Cold War victory achieved. Support the Russian people and their rights to liberty and justice, not the corrupt leaders who betray them... [A]ll who risk their lives to free Russia from tyranny and corruption are our allies. They are our moral equals. And the president of the United States, the nation that has been the greatest force for good in human history, should be the first among us to recognize that.
  • I know there is profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership. I can only speak for myself, but I do not believe that that is the message you will hear from all of the American leaders who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend. That's not the message you heard today from Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. That is not the message you will hear from Vice President Mike Pence. That's not the message you will hear from Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. And that is certainly not the message you will hear tomorrow from our bipartisan congressional delegation. I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries. I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West, and I believe we must always, always stand up for it. For if we do not, who will?
  • I hate the press; I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve - I'm very serious now - if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started. They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power. When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press... [W]e need to learn the lessons of history.
  • We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to.
  • One aspect of the [Vietnam] conflict by the way that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest income level of America and the highest income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong. If we are going to ask every American to serve, every American should serve.
    • On C-SPAN3, American History TV, quoted in The Republic (October 2017)


No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are — a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad.
  • People have come to this country from everywhere, and people from everywhere have made America great. Our immigration policy should reflect that truth, and our elected officials, including our President, should respect it.
The Restless Wave (2018)[edit]
The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations (2018)
  • My fellow Americans. No association ever mattered more to me. We’re not always right. We’re impetuous and impatient, and rush into things without knowing what we’re really doing. We argue over little differences endlessly, and exaggerate them into lasting breaches. We can be selfish, and quick sometimes to shift the blame for our mistakes to others. But our country ‘tis of thee.‘ What great good we’ve done in the world, so much more good than harm. We served ourselves, of course, but we helped make others free, safe and prosperous because we weren’t threatened by other people’s liberty and success. We need each other. We need friends in the world, and they need us. The bell tolls for us, my friends, Humanity counts on us, and we ought to take measured pride in that. We have not been an island. We were ‘involved in mankind.‘
    Before I leave, I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different. We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one. Even in times of political turmoil such as these, we share that awesome heritage and the responsibility to embrace it. Whether we think each other right or wrong in our views on the issues of the day, we owe each other our respect, as long as our character merits respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold, that all are created equal, and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all. Those rights inhabit the human heart, and from there, though they may be assailed, they can never be wrenched. I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.
  • “ I'm a Reagan Republican, a proponent of lower taxes, less government, free markets, free trade, defense readiness, and democratic internationalism.”
  • "The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it," spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls. And I do, too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I‘ve enjoyed the company of heroes. I’ve suffered the deepest despair and experienced the highest exultation. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.
    I leave behind a loving wife, who is devoted to protecting the world’s most vulnerable, and seven great kids, who grew up to be fine men and women. I wish I had spent more time in their company. But I know they will go on to make their time count, and be of useful service to their beliefs, and to their fellow human beings. Their love for me and mine for them is the last strength I have.
    What an ingrate I would be to curse the fate that concludes the blessed life I’ve led. I prefer to give thanks for those blessings, and my love to the people who blessed me with theirs. The bell tolls for me. I knew it would. So I tried, as best I could, to stay a "part of the main." I hope those who mourn my passing, and even those who don’t, will celebrate as I celebrate a happy life lived in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued service is the hope of the world. And I wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine.
Farewell statement (2018)[edit]
Official Farewell Statement of Senator John McCain, publicly read by Rick Davis at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona (27 August 2018) · "Full text: John McCain's farewell statement", Politico (27 August 2018) · "In His Farewell Letter, John McCain Offers Advice on Enduring These 'Challenging Times'" Esquire (27 August 2018)
"Fellow Americans"—that association has meant more to me than any other. … Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
Farewell, fellow Americans.
  • I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.
    I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on Earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.
    I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causesliberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
    "Fellow Americans" — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.
  • We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
  • Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
    Farewell, fellow Americans.
    God bless you, and God bless America.


  • Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"
    • Allegedly said in March 1986 during the U.S. senate race. The above quotation was pieced together by a journalist from the recollection of one or more sources, and prived in the Tucson Citizen on October 27, 1986 [39] [40]
  • At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.
    • Taken from The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, referring to his wife, Cindy McCain. Overheard by three anonymous reporters during his 1992 senate bid. [41]

Quotes about McCain[edit]

  • Frankly, neither of [the presidential candidates'] numbers adds up. But I’ve come to see a consistent pattern in Obama's. For the life of me, Senator Straight Talk, I see no such straight thing with yours. You rail against big government, yet continue to push cockamamie spending plans that make a mockery of it. That's why you're losing right now, Senator McCain. Not because you don't have the courage of your convictions. But because on economic matters, you have no convictions, period.
  • Luckily, I agree with my party more than Senator McCain agrees with his party.
  • McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table, and I don’t know what attracted my attention. But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever. I don’t know what he was telling him but I thought, good grief everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission. I don’t know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy and he just reached over there and snatched him.
    • Senator Thad Cochran [R-MS] recalling a 1987 incident when John McCain lost his temper with an associate of Nicaragua’s President, July 1, 2008
  • I think that's one reason [McCain's] "celebrity" ad [attacking Obama] came out so quickly. You know, part of the strategy here is, once you get caught [lying in an ad], change the subject, and launch a new charge.
    • Columnist Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly, on the short interval between release of two McCain campaign ads; Countdown; July 30, 2008; [43]
  • This week, [John McCain] strayed perilously close to being indicted for the deadly sin of flip-flopping, which famously helped doom John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004. [His] excoriation of the Supreme Court [ruling that habeas corpus applies to Guantánamo detainees] seemed like overkill, given the limited nature of the judgment, and doubly odd given that Mr McCain supports the immediate closure of the prison camp and the transfer of its prisoners to the mainland. That would give them far greater protection than anything the court has done.
    • "Twist and Shout: The problems of pleasing everyone," The Economist, p. 44, June 21, 2008
  • The McCain campaign is creating a new category of campaign maneuver. I would call it self-punking. They keep doing this to themselves. When I talked to them today, I think they were pretty genuinely upset that they'd screwed this up, that there were young people running a finance operation who set this thing up. That's their story and they're sticking to it, and they may be right about that. But the fact is that the senior leadership in the McCain campaign surely knew about this, or they should have known about it. Clayton Williams is anathema to the very Democratic women voters McCain is saying he's going after.
    • Howard Fineman of Newsweek, on Sen. McCain's canceling a fundraiser hosted by Williams -- famous for remarks about rape and opposition to TX Gov. Anne Richards -- but retaining the $300,000 he helped raise[44]; June 16, 2008; [45]
  • In terms of the relationship [between Gramm and McCain], I think, it's strong as ever and that … Phil Gramm's advice will be taken to heart.
    • Steve Forbes, a McCain surrogate, on whether Phil Gramm's role as economic advisor to McCain has truly ended, after McCain allegedly relieved Phil Gramm of the role; Gramm has been a leading deregulator of the mortgage and oil futures industries, CNBC; [46]
  • The problem for John McCain and George Bush is this: they have defined leaving as losing. Therefore, we cannot ever leave.
    • Chris Hayes, Washington Editor of The Nation, on Countdown; July 21, 2008; [47]
  • A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
  • Unjustified war and unconstitutional abridgment of individual rights, versus ill-conceived tax and economic policies -- this is the difference between venial and mortal sins. John McCain would continue the Bush administration's commitment to interventionism and constitutional over-reach. Obama promises a humbler engagement with our allies, while promising retaliation against any enemy who dares attack us. … Based on his embrace of centrist advisers and policies, it seems likely that Obama will turn out to be in the mold of John Kennedy, who was fond of noting that "a rising tide lifts all boats." … Even if my hopes on domestic policy are dashed and Obama reveals himself as an unreconstructed, died in the wool, big government liberal, I'm still voting for him.
    • Former Reagan policy advisor Larry Hunter; New York Daily News; July 16, 2008 [48]
  • I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. But every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let's compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.
    Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain's own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you're against it.
    Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what's more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same "Rove" tactics and the same "Rove" staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year, not this time. The Rove-McCain tactics are old and outworn, and America will reject them in 2008.
  • The noble simplicity of sentiment in McCain’s tweets is a world removed from Trump’s gaudy and boastful displays. And McCain’s demonstration of character and courage is a far more reliable guide to American greatness than the pronouncements of a president who speaks of it nonstop and embodies it not at all.
  • This is not the way a tested hero behaves. … It's like we caught him getting a manicure or something.
    • David Letterman, on seeing McCain on live feed being touched up by a makeup artist in preparation for an interview in New York City with Katie Couric after canceling his scheduled appearance at the same time on Letterman's show, allegedly to return to Washington because of the financial crisis; September 24, 2008; [49] [50] [51]
  • Just because a candidate's opponent says something is true about that candidate doesn't necessarily mean you should lead with it.
    • Rachel Maddow, on several media's leading with McCain's claim that Obama switched his Iraq policy; July 7, 2008; Countdown; [52]
  • It's not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.
    • Sen. Barack Obama; 3 June 2008 in Minnesota and later in June campaign letter; [53]
  • Though both Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden have been going on lately about how they are always, quote, "fighting for you," let us face the matter squarely. There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.
  • I would never vote for anyone who thinks its funny to "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran".
    • Republican Senator Ron Paul on McCain's comments regarding Iran
  • Mr. McCain fought in Vietnam. I think that he has enough blood of peaceful citizens on his hands. It must be impossible for him to live without these disgusting scenes anymore. Mr. McCain was captured and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years. Anyone would go nuts.
    • Vladimir Putin, Live Question & Answer session, December 15, 2011 [55]
  • McCain has gone … too far.
    • Republican strategist Karl Rove, on the accuracy of claims in various McCain campaign ads; September 14, 2008; [56]
  • I have witnessed incidents where he has used profanity at colleagues and exploded at colleagues. He would disagree about something and then explode. It was incidents of irrational behavior. We've all had incidents where we have gotten angry, but I've never seen anyone act like that....He had very few friends in the Senate. He has a lot of support around the country, but I don't think he has a lot of support from people who know him well.
    • Former Senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican who served with Senator McCain on the Senate Armed Services Committee. [57]
  • Frank Luntz: He's a war hero.
    Donald Trump: He's not a war hero.
    Luntz: He's a war hero.
    Trump: He is a war hero—
    Luntz: Five and a half years in a POW camp.
    Trump: He's a war hero 'cause he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, okay? I hate to tell ya.
  • McCain ran an aggressive, hard-hitting campaign against former Congressman J. D. Hayworth. If he had taken this same kind of principled conservative and ‘take no prisoners’ campaign against Barack Obama in 2008, he’d now be in the second year of his presidency.
  • It is not terror but heroism
  • But the more one sees of [McCain's] impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.
  • My husband, John McCain, never viewed himself as larger than life—but he was. He believed in fighting for the good and never quitting, and he had more tenacity and resolve than anybody I ever met.
    • Cindy McCain, Stronger
  • I remembered what John used to tell me—that if you get in a fight with a pig, you both get dirty, and the pig likes it.
    • Cindy McCain, Stronger
  • We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,.. What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser,
  • It is not terror but heroism if you were captured by the Vietnamese for dropping fragmentation bombs on their schools and hospitals Only those who have nothing can be terrorists.
    • Anonymous member of the Weather Underground, “For the SLA”. ‘’Sing a Battle Song’’, Spring 1974. Likely a reference to McCain who was released the prior Spring.


  1. the Flash (1998-06-18). "Flashes - That's Senator McNasty to You". Phoenix New Times (Village Voice Media). Retrieved on 2007-02-19. "The Washington Post broke the news last week of yet another McCain gaffe, made during a GOP fund raiser at a D.C. steak house. But neither the Post nor any other national publication that the Flash knows of actually printed the joke. To its credit, the Arizona Republic did. Here goes: ..." 
  2. Corn, David. A joke too bad to print?. Archived from the original on 1998-06-25. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  3. Kessler, Ronald (2006-07-05). McCain's Out-of-Control Anger. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  4. Our Right And His Wrongs, George F. Will
  5. a b Liasson, Mara. McCain Nearly Broke But Stays Course. National Public Radio. July 7, 2007.

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