John Sidney McCain III (born 29 August 1936) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Arizona. A member of the Republican Party, McCain has been 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.
- 1 Quotes
- 1.1 1980s
- 1.2 1990s
- 1.3 2000s
- 1.4 2010s
- 2 Attributed
- 3 Quotes about McCain
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 External links
- I can't believe a guy that handsome wouldn't have some impact.
- Like every other 13-year-old in America, she's in love with Leonardo DiCaprio, who I think is an androgynous wimp. You know what he does throughout the whole movie Titanic? He smokes.
- On his daughter, in The Washington Post (8 June 1998)
- Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno.
- War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.
- 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.
- As quoted in "Faith of My Fathers" (9 November 1999).
Speech at Ohio Wesleyan University (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?
- Comedy sketch on Late Night with Conan O'Brien (2000)
- 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)
- 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.
- Remarks following the South Carolina Primary (19 February 2000).
- Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.
- Address at Virginia Beach (2000), as quoted in The Washington Post (28 February 2000).
- By 2008, I think I might be ready to go down to the old soldiers home and await the cavalry charge there.
- As quoted in NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (1 August 2000).
- 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).
- 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.
- Appearance on Larry King Live, (24 September 2002)
Worth the Fighting For (2002)
- 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.
Speech at the Republican National Convention (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, and we'll never surrender.
- 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.
- As quoted in Meet the Press (20 February 2005).
- 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.
- Comments made to General Richard Myers in U.S. Senate hearings into the Iraq War (29 September 2005).
- 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.
- As quoted in Wall Street Journal (26 November 2005), by Stephen Moore.
- I don't think I need to tell you that there are jobs that Americans will not do. I don't think I have to tell you that there are. … [audience response] Now, my friends, I'll offer anybody here fifty dollars an hour if you'll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. [audience response] So, OK, sign up! Ok, when you sign up, you sign up, and you'll be there for the whole season, the whole season, OK, not just one day. Because you can't do it, my friend.
- The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.
- Speaking about Don't ask, don't tell, before students at Iowa State University — Shear, Michael D. (February 3, 2010). "McCain appears to shift on 'don't ask, don't tell'". The Washington Post (The Washington Post Company). Retrieved on 2010-10-28.
- 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.
- Interview with James P. Rubin (2006).
- 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) 
- 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) 
- 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.
- 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.
- Associated Press (2007-02-19). "McCain blasts Rumsfeld for Iraq war missteps". MSNBC.com. Retrieved on 2007-02-20.
- 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.
- [On presidential candidates not condemning the controversial MoveOn.org 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.
- As quoted in The Boston Globe (16 September 2007).
- I have not been keeping up with it as much as I should have maybe, because it’s certainly—This and Paris Hilton are the kind of issues that seem to get a lot more attention than maybe some of us think they deserve.
- 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'm glad whenever they cut interest rates, I wish interest rates were zero.
- Republican presidential debate (9 October 2007).
- 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 
- 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 
- 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.
- In Foreign Affairs Magazine on the idea of sending NATO troops to Afghanistan instead of US forces, November 2007
- 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 
- 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.
- I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a 'K', a 'G', and a 'B'.
- On Vladimir Putin.
- 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 
- 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.
- 2008-01-09, 
- 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; 
- 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.
- 2008-01-27 
- I have a clear record, both publicly and privately, of saying Alito and Roberts are what we want on the Supreme Court.
- 2008-02-02 
- Anybody who believes the surge has not succeeded, militarily, politically and in most other ways, frankly, does not know the facts on the ground.
- February 2008 
- As part of Social Security reform, I believe that private savings accounts are a part of it -- along the lines that President Bush proposed.
- February 2008 
- 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, 
- It's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq. That's well known. We continue to be concerned about the Iranians taking al-Qaeda into Iran and training them and sending them back.... I am sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda, not al-Qaeda, I am sorry.
- 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.
- Speech at National Civil Rights Museum (4 April 2008), Memphis, Tennessee.
- We're no longer staring into the abyss of defeat and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success.
- 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.
- Interview with Peter Cook on Bloomberg TV regarding economic progress during the Bush administration, 17 April 2008
- 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?
- 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.
- 1 May 2008; Fox News
- 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.
- Speaking in Charleston, West Virginia (14 May 2008).
- 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); You Tube; 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 
- 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 
- 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." 
- 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; 
- IAVA ratings: McCain: D; Obama: B+ ; DAV: McCain: 20%; Obama: 80%; the AL and VFW don't perform such voting record ratings  
- 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.
- The first telephones cost a thousand dollars and they were about that big! We all remember that!
- As quoted in Albaquerque Town Hall Meeting (15 July 2008).
- 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; 
- 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 
- I will not raise your taxes, nor support a tax increase.
- As quoted in hall meeting (30 July 2008).
- 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 
- 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."
- 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.
- Bomb, bomb! Bomb, Iran!
- As quoted in "Maybe John McCain will bring back 'Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran'" (9 October 2008),The Los Angeles Times.
- 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 
- America is the greatest force for good in the history of the world.
- Second Presidential Debate (8 October 2008).
- 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.
- Town Hall meeting in Lakeville, Minnesota, 2008-10-10, quoted in McCain Tries to Tame Flames He Earlier Fanned, YouTube, 10 October 2008
- 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)
- 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.
- Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man.
- As quoted in Twitter (2009).
- 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.
- On claims of waterboarding as being impedimental in as quoted in "John McCain to Bush apologists: Stop lying about Bin Laden and torture" by Greg Sar in The Washington Post (12 May 2011) - YouTube video of McCaine's speech
- I can only express satisfaction that the Dear Leader is joining the likes of Gaddafi, bin Laden, Hitler, and Stalin in a warm corner of hell.
- 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.
- As quoted in "McCain: Obama's 'slouch' comment dismissive of Putin", (11 August 2013), The Washington Post.
- Why should you shake hands with somebody who's keeping Americans in prison? I mean, what's the point? Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler.
- Regarding U.S. President Barack Obama shaking the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial for Nelson Mandela.
- The Takeaway, 10 December 2013 , quoted in Tom Kludt (10 December 2013), "McCain On Obama-Castro Handshake: 'Chamberlain Shook Hands With Hitler' (Audio)", Talking Points Memo
- 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,
- Remarks after being banned from entering Russia (3 March 2015)
Quotes about McCain
- These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader.
- 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; 
- 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.
- 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.
- 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; 
- 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.
- 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.
- John Kerry, Democratic National Convention (August 27, 2008).
- 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;   
- Just because a candidate's opponent says something is true about that candidate doesn't necessarily mean you should lead with it.
- 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.
- 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
- McCain is the classic opportunist. He's always reaching for attention and glory. After he came home, Carol [McCain's first wife] walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona. And the rest is history.
- 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 
- McCain has gone … too far.
- Republican strategist Karl Rove, on the accuracy of claims in various McCain campaign ads; September 14, 2008; 
- I have been following John McCain’s career for nearly 20 years. I know him personally. There is something wrong with this guy and let me tell you what it is – deceit. When he came home and saw that Carol [McCain's first wife] was not the beauty he left behind, he started running around on her almost right away. Everybody around him knew it. Eventually he met Cindy and she was young and beautiful and very wealthy. At that point McCain just dumped Carol for something he thought was better. This is a guy who makes such a big deal about his character. He has no character. He is a fake. If there was any character in that first marriage, it all belonged to Carol.
- Ted Sampley
- 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. 
- John started carousing and running around with women.
- Robert Timberg, author of The Nightingale’s Song, a biography of McCain and graduates of the Naval academy, about the end of McCain's first marriage.
- 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.
- Donald Trump, Family Leadership Summit 2015, 2015-07-18, quoted in Harriet Alexander (18 July 2015), "Donald Trump tells John McCain: 'I like people who weren't captured'", The Telegraph
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: ..."
- Corn, David. A joke too bad to print?. Salon.com. Salon.com. Archived from the original on 1998-06-25. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
- Kessler, Ronald (2006-07-05). McCain's Out-of-Control Anger. NewsMax.com. NewsMax.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
- Our Right And His Wrongs, George F. Will
- Liasson, Mara. McCain Nearly Broke But Stays Course. National Public Radio. July 7, 2007.
- Churcher, Sharon (June 8, 2008). "The wife U.S. Republican John McCain callously left behind". Daily Mail. Retrieved on 2008-06-09.