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Remembering the Life and Legacy of Senator John McCain; Mass Shooting at Madden Video Game Tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired August 26, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:17] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Today condolences are pouring in from around the world following the death last night of Senator John McCain. He died at the age of 81 following a year-long battle with brain cancer. During his life, McCain took on many titles, official and unofficial. The Maverick, naval bomber pilot, prisoner of war, a warrior politician who crossed the aisle, a loving father, a jokester, a presidential hopeful, and the definition of a true American hero.
McCain endured more challenges than most could imagine during his lifetime and never let it break his spirit. He thrived on fighting for a cause larger than himself. McCain also was a fierce champion for democracy during his decades in the U.S. Senate and was unafraid to call out his colleagues and demand a higher standard of conduct from all of them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle. That's an approach that's been employed by both sides, mandating legislation from the top down, without any support from the other side, with all the parliamentary maneuvers that requires.
We're getting nothing done, my friends. We're getting nothing done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: McCain was a courageous leader, a loyal friend, and an inspiration to so many. He also had many brushes with death over the years, surviving plane crashes, several bouts of skin cancer, and more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, including part of it in solitary confinement. But to no surprise, even while battling brain cancer, McCain embodied bravery in every sense of the word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Every life has to end one way or another. I think it was a playwright. I'll think of his name in a minute, and he said, I always know that no one could live forever, but I thought there might be one exception.
MCCAIN: I'm very happy. I'm very happy with my life. I'm very happy with what I've been able to do. And there's two ways of looking at these things. And one of them is to celebrate. I am able to celebrate a wonderful life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And today we are celebrating and honoring McCain's life and legacy from Arizona to Capitol Hill. We'll get reaction from Washington in just a moment. But first, let's start in his home state of Arizona.
CNN's senior national correspondent Kyung Lah is in Phoenix. The senator actually planned his own funeral services. So what are you able to share with us?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, so much of this battle that he had with this disease, from the diagnosis to the year-long battle happened in the public space. But privately he was planning his own funeral over the last year.
As friends would come to visit him at his Arizona ranch, the senator would say what he wanted and what he wanted is what will be unfolding. There will be a total of three services, one here in Arizona, a public remembrance, as well as a funeral service. There will be one at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and then in Annapolis, where his military career began.
And here in Arizona, a solemn procession began last night, beginning all of this. The hearse moving slowly with the senator's body leaving his beloved ranch. It traveled 100 miles here to Phoenix. As the procession passed these desert roads, through some of the more populated areas of Phoenix, people started coming out. They wanted to see it.
This was not something that was publicly made available anywhere, but people found out. They wanted to wave flags. As the hearse arrived at the funeral home, people were there to greet it to say thank you and farewell. Here live now in Arizona, you can see the flags have been lowered in honor of the senator. The senator's body will lie in state here at Arizona's capitol. It will lie in state on Wednesday.
Wednesday is also Senator McCain's 82nd birthday. The governor making this announcement on twitter. Governor Ducey saying this is a rare and distinct occurrence for a truly special man. John McCain is Arizona, and we will honor his life in every way we can.
For those of us who watch national politics, this man was a powerful national voice, but here in Arizona, he was a favorite son.
[14:05:02] He followed Barry Goldwater's seat. He took the mantle from Barry Goldwater. People who are serving in politics now in this state, who grew up here in this state, simply do not remember a time, Fredricka, before there was a John McCain. So the amount of loss and grief that is being shared on both sides of the aisle here in Arizona is hard to express, according to many people I've spoken to -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kyung Lah, thank you so much for that.
Senator McCain was first elected to Congress back in 1982 and to the Senate four -- and to the Senate four years later, I should say. His colleagues on both sides of the aisle are feeling the loss.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake got emotional speaking with Jake Tapper this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: He told us, taught us, to put the country above yourself, to serve a cause greater than yourself. And that, I think, came from his experience in Vietnam and certainly came from what he saw with the tragedies of war. But he was a lover of freedom, and he wanted to spread that and was an advocate to the end of strong American leadership, never apologizing for America and its values. That's something that he leaves with us. I'm going to miss him.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
FLAKE: I -- I've admired him, like I said, my entire life. And it's tough to imagine a Senate without him. It's tough to imagine politics without John McCain. But we need to go on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: In an op-ed shortly after McCain died, Senator Flake reflected on his early days in Congress when he was facing some political backlash and he wrote, "In the midst of my inner tumult, on a flight from Washington to Arizona, Senator McCain made his way back to my seat with a stern look on his face. Oh, no, I thought, not him, too. He stuck his finger in my chest and demanded, don't back down, you're in the right. They'll come around. It was all that I needed."
CNN's Phil Mattingly joins me right now.
So talk to me about how other members of Congress, those in both Houses, are reacting and what they're saying about Senator McCain.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, I think what I've been struck by most in talking to members, texting with the current and former McCain staff members is how stinging this loss has been felt around Washington, D.C. Not because of the man himself but because everybody knew this was coming for a long period of time. Obviously he's been away from the U.S. Senate for about nine months now, kind of been preparing for this moment.
And yet, still people are just pained today. And the way that they're sharing their stories, their personal stories about the man, about what he meant to the institution, about what he meant to the ideas of America, just shows the real impact that he had. And there's also the humorous stories as well.
I've had a number of people talk to me about how Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a top Republican in the U.S. Senate, used to joke to Senator McCain, who they battled often, even though they're in the same party, that McCain's Vietnamese captors were still in group therapy sessions for having to deal with him for five years.
So it's been an interesting mix of back and forth. I thought somebody who actually put perhaps it best, encapsulate it best, was the Democratic leader in the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: You don't meet many great men as you go through life. John McCain was one of them. For his patriotism, for his strength, for his ability to speak truth to power, and for him to do personal acts of kindness quietly over and over again.
I want generations in the Senate and in the world to remember him. And so I'm introducing a resolution to rename the Russell Senate office building after John McCain. And I'd like decades from now little children to ask their parents who was John McCain, and they'll explain his sacrifice, his patriotism, and most of all his fidelity to do the right thing as he saw it, and when he did the wrong thing, to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Fredricka, I think that was one of the biggest things you constantly heard, was that Senator McCain, obviously you knew where he stood on things, but when he decided he'd done something that he didn't agree with himself, he would admit it and acknowledge it and move on from it. And that, more than anything else, engendered a level of respect that you simply just don't see anywhere else in Washington at this moment.
WHITFIELD: And then, Phil, I mean, no one can replace Senator McCain. But, you know, his seat will remain vacant. The governor, has he made any comment about what and how they'll proceed?
MATTINGLY: Yes, Governor Doug Ducey, who's been very respectful of the situation throughout the entire process, a difficult spot to be in as a governor, has said that he will make no announcements about a replacement until Senator McCain is laid to rest.
[14:10:01] Now, Governor Ducey, well, he'll have the ability to appoint somebody to the seat who will essentially serve until the next general election, that'll be 2020, that person would then have to, if they win that seat, hold on until the end of Senator McCain's term which would be 2022. So no names yet. The governor waiting respectfully until governor -- until Senator McCain is laid to rest. And then that announcement will be made -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Phil Mattingly, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
All right. Senator McCain's children are also remembering their father. McCain's daughter Meghan released a very emotional farewell to her dad just moments after his passing. And I want to take a minute to read a portion of her very heartfelt statement. She titled her good-bye "I Love You Forever, My Beloved Father."
She goes on to say, "I was with my father at his end, as he was with me at my beginning. In the 33 years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me, and supported me in all things. He loved me, and I loved him. He taught me how to live. His love and his care ever present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman, and he showed me what it is to be a man. All that I am is thanks to him. Now that he has gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations, and his love. Your prayers for his soul and for our family are sincerely appreciated.
"My father is gone, and I miss him as only an adoring daughter can. But in this loss and in this sorrow, I take comfort in this. John McCain, hero of the republic and to this little girl, wakes today to something more glorious than anything on this earth. Today the warrior enters his true and eternal life, greeted by those who have gone before him, rising to meet the author of all things."
Meghan McCain ends the letter with a quote from the author C.S. Lewis. "The dream has ended, this is the morning."
McCain's son jack sent out a statement on Twitter saying this. "It is not the man that was great, but instead it was his desire to serve a cause greater than himself that defined his life. To me, he was a giant. But to him, he was an imperfect servant of the nation he loved deeply. Fair winds, following seas and clear skies."
The Maverick may be gone, but his legacy will live on forever. CNN continues to remember the life of Senator John McCain, a war hero. Here he is in his own words on what's waiting for him in the afterlife. We'll be back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I'd like to go back to our valley and see the creek run after the rain, and hear the cotton woods whisper in the wind. I want to smell the rose-scented breeze and feel the sun on my shoulders. I want to watch the hawks hunt from the sycamore, and then take my leave bound for a place near my old friend Chuck Larson in the cemetery on the Severin back where it began.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:17:24] WHITFIELD: As we remember and honor the life of Senator John McCain, we want to take a moment to remember his humor as well. Known for quick wit and one-liners, Senator McCain never missed an opportunity to bring laughter to a room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: Are you someone who likes fine jewelry and also respects a politician who can reach across the aisle? If so, you can't go wrong with McCain-Feingold.
We've talked about it. I told him, Maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How does it make you feel, knowing that voters may reject you because they feel you're too old to be president?
MCCAIN: Wake up, sir.
There's a statute of limitations on Sarah Palin questions. And by the way, thanks for keep mentioning about me losing. I appreciate that. I have this line, after I lost, I slept like a baby. Sleep two hours, wake up and cry, sleep two hours, wake up and cry.
Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him fat one. He doesn't mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me. George Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any advice for Donald Trump?
MCCAIN: I gave up on that some time ago.
I don't want to talk about the bleeping campaign, understand? If you think I'm going to go back to that bleeping situation, then bleep you.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN: OK, thank you.
MCCAIN: Thanks for the question, you little jerk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot, a long-time friend and colleague of John McCain, and author of the book, "The Road Not Taken."
All right, Max, so you met the senator back in 2002. What were your first impressions? Does humor, you know, come to the top of the list?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, his humor is very real and he was very irreverent. He was not somebody who took himself overly seriously unlike most politicians. In fact, a lot of his appeal was the fact that he was not a normal politician. And unlike Donald Trump, he did not have to demonstrate his authenticity by vilifying people or by saying ignorant or deranged things.
He was always a gentleman, but he was -- also had that kind of caustic wit, some of which you showed on the screen before. I mean, I think there are other elements of him which were less well known, including the fact that for example he was a great reader of history.
[14:20:05] I mean, that was how we first met. That he read a book of history I'd written called "The Savage Wars of Peace," and wanted to talk about it. And that's -- you know, he read all the time. People don't realize that. He traveled all the time. He went all over the world incessantly going to allied countries, meeting with dissidents and freedom fighters. There were so many aspects of John McCain that made him a larger-than-life figure.
WHITFIELD: You wrote an op-ed about John McCain this morning. And I do want to read a portion of that and ask, you know, what he meant to you. "Overall McCain's passing, tragic at any time, is all the sadder now. Trump hated McCain and insulted him at every turn because McCain was everything Trump is not and everything that we need in our politics today but tragically lack."
Talk to me more about why you decided to, you know, highlight those differences and, you know, what makes McCain such a standout in so many ways.
BOOT: You know, obviously, like everybody else, I knew that the end was coming for John McCain, but I still found myself just devastated today in thinking about that he's no longer here and thinking about the injustice of the fact that John McCain is in his grave or about to be in his grave and Donald Trump is in the White House, somebody who never hid his -- you know, his hatred for John McCain. And you cannot imagine two men who are more disparate -- who are more different.
I mean, Donald Trump talks about American greatness. John McCain lived American greatness. He exemplified American greatness. Donald Trump is all about Donald Trump. He's a me, me, me, first individual. John McCain always put country first. He was somebody who was always willing to sacrifice his self-interest, whether his physical self- interest as a POW in Hanoi or his political self-interest as a senator.
He was always willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the country. And those are values and attitudes that we need a lot more of on our politics and are sadly missing. I think that's why it's going to be such a huge hole in our nation's life not to have Senator McCain around anymore.
WHITFIELD: Do you think that reminders such as your words -- you know, you paint the picture of John McCain, how so many people have so eloquently talked about how he would reach across the aisle, how he exemplifies all the great things that come with great leadership.
Do you believe that these reminders that we're hearing just within the past few hours of his passing just might leave a lasting impression to help bring some civility, much of what has been lost on Capitol Hill, or in other parts of Washington?
BOOT: It certainly can't hurt. And I think in the future, politicians would -- could do a lot worse than to ask themselves what would John McCain do? I think that's actually a great guide to any particular situation. Because he had this unswerving belief in right and wrong, and he would do the right thing whether it cost him politically or not. He was willing to break with his own party when necessary. He was willing to stand up to presidents of his own party. He was willing to speak out for freedom and to oppose despotism. I mean, these are the qualities that we need in our political life and
that John McCain exemplified in his life over many decades. And I hope that his life and legacy will serve as an inspiration to others because goodness knows we could use a lot more of those McCain-like qualities in our politics.
WHITFIELD: And what do you think it says that John McCain has made his request about his exit, about, you know, the lying in state there in Arizona, being in Washington, at the National Cathedral, and then being laid to rest at the Naval Academy and to be eulogized by George W. Bush and Barack Obama?
BOOT: Well, the fact that he is going to be eulogized by Bush and Obama I think speaks to his largeness of spirit because of course he lost presidential campaigns to both of those men and yet emerged with great relationships with both of them because there was a fundamental mutual respect there. But I think it speaks volumes that he does not want the current president of the United States speaking at his memorial service because, again, Donald Trump is not somebody that John McCain had any respect for.
And of course, Donald Trump had no respect for John McCain. I mean, one of the many shocking things that Donald Trump said was very early on in his campaign when he said I don't regard John McCain as a war hero. I like people who weren't captured. I mean, that for me right there showed why Donald Trump was not fit to be president. And of course, you know, John McCain did not make a big thing out of it, but I'm sure those kinds of remarks stung him very deeply.
But I think what was really hurtful to him was not Donald Trump's attacks on him but the fact that Donald Trump did not care about the country and that he was willing to kowtow to people like Vladimir Putin despite all the warnings that people like John McCain had issued over the years about the dangers of caving in to despots.
[14:25:00] WHITFIELD: Max Boot, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much.
BOOT: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: He's been called so many things, a war hero, a foreign policy hawk, a legend. Our special coverage of the life of John McCain continues right here on CNN.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again. We're following this breaking news out of Florida, where there has been what authorities are calling a mass shooting at a game bar in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Police are warning people to stay away from the area called Jacksonville landing, saying the area is not safe at this time. It's unclear how many victims at this point there may be and how serious this shooting is, but it is being called a mass shooting, according to the sheriff's office there. ATF is responding to the scene. WJXT anchor Scott Johnson joins me by phone.
So, Scott, what can you tell me about this game bar? What happens there, and what is being reported to have happened there?
SCOTT JOHNSON, WJXT ANCHOR (via telephone): This is in a facility called the Jacksonville Landing, which is a center piece of downtown Jacksonville. It is a major area where we have a lot of major concerts, gatherings, social events of that nature.
It sounds like this may have been -- and we're still working to confirm some sort of video game tournament at one of the many restaurants in the Jacksonville Landing, Chicago Pizza, Madden possibly tournament. Madden football videogame. We don't know that for sure. What we do know is the Jacksonville sheriff's office, our local police agency is asking for people to stay as far away from the landing area as possible. This is a place that a lot of people go to, particularly on weekends when they have events. A lot of traffic, a lot of foot traffic and vehicle traffic. 11 people may have been shot.
We are still working to confirm the numbers, because this just happened within the last hour, we are hearing. Three to four people may be dead, the rest injured.
So this is something that is a shock to all of us. This is right on the river in the center piece of our downtown. So right now we are still waiting to gather details from the Jacksonville sheriff's office to learn the magnitude of this. We're going to -- we're just trying to get our live pictures on air. I'm seeing some pictures now. They blocked off many streets. The Jacksonville sheriff's office has. This is right in the corner downtown. So it's going to keep a lot of people away as they try and get a handle on this.
To our knowledge, we don't know anything about a shooter, who these people are. But early initial reports right now appear this was some sort of Madden video game tournament downtown Jacksonville at our landing.
WHITFIELD: So then, Scott, during a tournament like this, a gaming tournament, approximately how many people would be in this game bar? What are the ages that are spanned here?
JOHNSON: I honestly couldn't tell you. I just know the Madden video game. And you're going to have late teens, guys in their 20s, maybe a little older. A lot of young men typically play this video game. And once again to clarify, we have not confirmed that with police. These are just initial reports that it may have been a Madden video game tournament.
But a lot of young men may be there. This Jacksonville Landing has had violence before. We have had fatal shootings at this Jacksonville Landing, not recently, but I think it was in 2017 we had one. So they do have security down here. This is a place that sometimes with concerts will have 10,000 people in it. But for a madden video game tournament, who knows? Maybe it's 40 or 50. We can't say until we can get a better idea of how many people were there.
But we are still trying to gather details of how many people may have been present at this. If this was a few dozen or if this was something that drew in hundreds. We just don't know at this point. We're still trying to get those answers.
WHITFIELD: All right. Scott Johnson, thank you so much, of our affiliate WJXT there in Jacksonville. We'll check back with you.
Meantime, CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is also with me by phone just to give us a better idea of what some of these gaming tournaments are like.
So, Brian, again, you know, according to Scott, we don't know how many people were attending this tournament, but people can be online with this tournament from all parts, you know, really of the globe.
What do you know about the scale of tournaments like this and a gaming center that attracts a number of people who don't necessarily want to be in the comfort of their home to do this, to participate, but then they go to a game bar like this?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, this is something that brings people together. It's a sort of community sense at these locations, where these events happened. You know, ESports, and this is what ESports is, it's, you know, a very growing part of the media business where people come together to play games, some amateur, some professional, to compete in tournaments. And at some point, there can be huge amounts of money on the line.
This was not a national tournament, though. What we're seeing in Jacksonville today was a very early stage, local tournament. People trying to qualify to get to go to Las Vegas for a national tournament.
So you definitely had dozens in the room. We don't know if there were more than dozens. But dozens of people in the room playing games, competing against each other, watching some of these really talented players compete in Madden.
And what we see on the livestream of this shooting is that at some point during the game, shots begin to ring out in the room. I counted more than a dozen shots on the livestream. And we don't know if it continued after that point because the livestream then ended.
But just to be clear, Fredericka, these kinds of events, these ESports, they're oftentimes livestreamed on the web. So that's how we're able to see to some extent what happened in the room.
[14:35:03] Now in the video, which we may be able to show later, we don't actually see the shooting, we only hear the shooting. But, unfortunately, like I said, at least a dozen shots ring out. And you hear people starting to scream. And you hear people starting to wonder where did the gunman go? Where did he go? Where did he go?
So that's the initial sense we have from this location in Jacksonville, is that there were friends, colleagues, rivals all getting together on a Sunday morning and a Sunday afternoon, playing Madden together at what is essentially a sports bar but for video games in downtown Jacksonville.
WHITFIELD: All right, Brian. Sit tight for a moment.
I want to bring in a reporter Vic Micolucci from WJXT in Jacksonville.
So, Vic, what can you tell us about whether this is an active scene? Do they have the, you know, suspect? What's going on?
VIC MICOLUCCI, REPORTER, WJXT (via telephone): Fredericka, right now, I'm told this is not an active scene. Obviously, very active when it comes to the triage of these patients. The last that I heard -- I'm talking with a lot of people within the fire department, within the sheriff's office here. A lot of my sources are telling me 11 people, 11 victims. We have at least four dead.
We're told that there's bodies lying out in front of this Chicago Pizza, which is a sports bar. This is a river front area. It's in downtown Jacksonville. You know, last night we had the Jaguars game. So there's probably still some people staying in the hotel there.
They're just triaging these patients. They're trying to get all of these people to different hospitals. So you do have several different hospitals in the area, within probably three to five miles. So we've got all hands on deck with these first responders from Jacksonville Fire and Rescue, from the sheriff's office.
There is an FBI office here in Jacksonville. So I would imagine that they could possibly be involved as well. The sheriff's office and fire rescue, they train for these scenarios, always hope that it doesn't happen, but right now it is just everybody scrambling to treat these patients and try to find out what's going on.
You asked specifically about the suspect. I don't have any suspect information right now. We don't know if it's one suspect. We don't know if it's multiple shooters. That's the information that we want. But I kept asking my sources, is this active? Is this an active shooter?
I also have been talking to the general manager at a restaurant that's in that same complex. They said they don't have any intelligence to believe that it is still an active shooting.
So whoever did this, one person, possibly multiple people, might have fled the scene. We just don't know that yet.
WHITFIELD: All right. Vic, thank you so much for the information. And as you're talking, we're looking at the graphic of the area, which is a real magnet for, you know, folks who come and enjoy the riverside activity, restaurants, et cetera, and including this game bar where this all took place.
And then live pictures on the right of your screen where you see the squad cars lined up. But we're unable to see the kind of activity that you described, which is the triage that has been set up as a result of people being hit by gunfire.
And, again, as Vic was saying, still unclear whether the suspect or suspects are still on the scene. If police are looking for them elsewhere. We're still trying to get information. But, again, gaming center there attracting perhaps dozens of people who may be qualifying for this Madden gaming tournament upcoming and that gunfire erupted in there.
And now we've got, at least according to Vic's sources there, 11 victims. And we still need to confirm among the injured or perhaps even dead. We're going to continue our coverage there out of Jacksonville, Florida. We'll be right back.
[14:44:22] WHITFIELD: We continue to monitor our breaking news out of Florida, where there has been what authorities are calling a mass shooting at a game bar in Jacksonville, specifically in an area you're looking at live pictures of right now, called Jackson Landing, an area right downtown Jacksonville with a lot of restaurants. It really is a magnet for a lot of people particularly on the weekend.
And on this weekend, today, we hear there are possibly dozens of people who went to this gaming center to be a part of a tournament there, and there has been a shooting. Still unclear whether Jacksonville police have the suspect. But according to our affiliate's reporting, there is a triage unit that has been set up. At least 11 people have been victimized here, still unclear the degree of injuries or perhaps even deaths.
[14:45:13] And, of course, when we get any more information, we'll be able to bring that to you as we continue to monitor the developments there out of Jacksonville, Florida.
Meantime, the other big story we continue to follow today is the passing of U.S. Senator John McCain, a man revered for his years of public service, both in the U.S. military and then later in U.S. government.
Elected for the first time to the Senate in 1986. He brought his vision for fairness, progress, and passion to Capitol Hill. Simultaneously butting heads and befriending members on both sides of the aisle.
Joining me right now is Max Baucus, former U.S. senator from Montana and ambassador to China.
Mr. Ambassador, good to see you. The two of you were in the Senate together for nearly 30 years. That's extraordinary. So you got to know him very well on a personal level and on politics -- political level as well. Share with us your memories of him.
MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. SENATOR FROM MONTANA: John McCain is an amazing man. He's a giant. Some say people are not irreplaceable. John McCain is irreplaceable. Several reasons. He's so driven. Public service was his calling. And he served to the hilt. Defended America, patriots, standing up for America, demonstrated courage. Inspiration. An amazing, amazing man.
He spoke truth to power. He did what he thought was right, irrespective of what the political pressures might be. And the best example I could think of was when he voted against repealing Obamacare. It was amazing.
He did that because he thought it was the right thing to do. That is not repeal Obamacare, even though his party and Mitch McConnell pressed him extensively to do so.
But anyway, bottom line, wonderful man. There is no one like him in the Senate. There's not going to be anybody like him for a long time. And I just have the highest regard for him.
WHITFIELD: He has spoken, you know, of regrets that he had in his life of politics where he didn't necessarily, you know, feel good about some of the decisions that he made, but then he was willing to go back and really publicly say, you know, I allowed politics to lead me and not my heart at that time.
An example, you know, South Carolina confederate flag where later after, you know, the primary, he reflected and said publicly that was an error.
But how did you see that in him? He was someone who was willing to work across the aisle. How did you, you know, see that as he reached across the aisle, he was being driven by his heart, not necessarily politics.
BAUCUS: John had very strong views. He's a very, very driven man. And I respect that very much. On occasion, he made a mistake following those strong views. Once he -- twice he blew up at me, lost his temper, got really angry. And I just, OK, what's all this about? Then he apologized to me. He was very apologetic.
He said, Max, that was wrong for me to do that, that was a mistake. He would listen. We reflected. Then he would change course sometimes to do what he thought was right. And the confederate issue is one of those.
You bring up that example of how, you know, he gave the thumbs down to, you know, repealing -- you know, replacing Obamacare. And that was one of his last, you know, big acts, you know, particularly as a maverick. And that really underscored his -- that moniker, you know, as a maverick.
But, you know, talk to me about how he is also had a hand in the crafting of his farewell and his family saying, you know, he's decided he's no longer going to continue with his brain cancer treatment and how he has crafted what this next week and a half will look like.
BAUCUS: I think that's quintessential John McCain. He was always working, thinking, doing what he wanted to do. And he wants to be remembered, I think, as a strong patriot, a public servant, giving an example to those who followed him, what patriotism is.
The right definition of patriotism is. It's standing up, working for your country, listening to the fact, that's being bipartisan. It's working together. And I think he went through all this planning in part to show to the world what one can do, what one should do. He wants his legacy to be continued.
WHITFIELD: Ambassador Max Baucus, thank you so much for your reflections.
Senator John McCain will always be remembered as a political maverick. He spoke his mind, never hesitating to reach across the aisle. Our special coverage of the life of John McCain continues right here on CNN.
[14:54:35] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are 4,000 works of public art in the city. We use art to transform individuals, to provide people with a moment of hope, to build resilience. Mural arts Philadelphia is the nation's largest community based public art program. Making art impacts individuals in need because they are called on to be creative. They start to see themselves in terms of their potential and self-worth. The artists are leading the vision.
[14:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then once you land on a design and everyone is on board with it, it's just amazing to see it come to life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a former sergeant in the army. And I have PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When I got back, I didn't even realize I needed help. We worked with elementary school children with one of the paint sessions. I was like, wow, this is one of the coolest things I've ever done. It represents every veteran.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We work with young people. We work with people behind the walls of prisons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today was the air brush workshop. And today we showed the young brothers how you make $10 every five minutes. A poster stand in our street corners.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps you better you as a person and to be independent in the real world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's turning me into an artist.
WHITFIELD: One of America's most successful playwrights passed away today. Tony Award winner Neil Simon, the playwright and screenwriter, whose memorable comedies such as "The Odd Couple," "Barefoot in the Park" and "The Sunshine Boys" died this morning at the age of 91.
CNN's Sara Sidner takes a look back at Simon's amazing life and legacy.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It didn't really matter who the stars were. If Neil Simon wrote it, people wanted to see it.
"Time" magazine once called him the patron saint of laughter. A native New Yorker, Simon learned his craft in the early days of television, writing for comedian Sid Caesar.
NEIL SIMON, SCREENWRITER: We would just string old jokes together until we finally learned how to create them.
SIDNER: Simon later wrote a play about TV comedy writers, "Laughter on the 23rd Floor."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I want to be a writer. I want to write comedy!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: A comedy writer? I mean, they? Why? You really want to be like me, like Val, like Ira, like any of us?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: More than anything else in the world!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Helen, you know us. We're disgusting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Many of Simon's plays were part autobiography. His 1961 Broadway debut "Come Blow Your Horn" was based on Simon's relationship with his older brother, Danny. Simon later remembered how worried he was when that first play opened.
SIMON: If that play failed, then I go to Hollywood and I write some sitcom for the rest of my life.
SIDNER: "Come Blow Your Horn" did not fail. It ran 677 performances and later became a movie starring none other than Frank Sinatra.
A few years later, Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" helped make Robert Redford a star. And in 1965, Simon won his first Tony for "The Odd Couple," the story of two mismatched roommates, Oscar and Felix.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Everything you do irritates me! And when you're not here, the things I know you're going to do when you come in irritate me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: "The Odd Couple" was a huge hit that inspired a successful movie and a long-running television series. And it firmly established Simon as Broadway's most popular playwright.
Other hits followed "Plaza Suite" and the "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," "The Sunshine Boys" just to name a few.
No theater even seemed to be complete without another new play, sometimes a new musical featuring Simon's one-liners.
There were screen plays, too, for movies like "Murder By Death" and "The Good-Bye Girl," for which Richard Dreyfus would win an academy award for best actor.
Critics often dismissed Simon as a mere joke writer.
SIMON: Because I wrote a play almost every year, 27 plays in 30 years is almost every year, so anyone who writes that many plays, it couldn't be very hard for him.
SIDNER: Simon never gave up comedy. But as he got older, his scripts became more serious. And in 1991, three decades after his Broadway debut, Simon won the Pulitzer Prize for a coming-of-age play that mixed comedy with sadness "Lost in Younkers."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I forgot my key.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, how did you get in downstairs?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I used my spare key.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: They named a New York theater after Neil Simon, but Simon's real monument is made of laughter as new generations of actors continue to revive Simon's plays. That laughter will continue for many years to come.
CNN ANNOUNCER: This is "CNN Breaking News."
WHITFIELD: Hello, again, everyone. And thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. We're following breaking news out of Florida, where there has been what authorities are calling a mass shooting at a game bar in Jacksonville.
Jacksonville police now saying on twitter that there are multiple fatalities. One suspect is dead. It's unknown if there is a second suspect. Authorities are warning people to stay away from the area called Jacksonville Landing, saying the area is not safe at this time. We're told gunfire erupted during what is known as a Madden Xbox Football gaming tournament at a bar in Jacksonville.
We have video of what appears to be of the shooting while the tournament was being broadcast online. And we do want to warn you that what you're about to hear and see is disturbing.