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Senator John McCain, War Hero, Political Titan Dies At 81 Aired 6-7a ET

Aired August 26, 2018 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We are so grateful to have you with us this morning 6:00 right on the dot here. I'm Christi Paul.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Martin Savidge in for Victor Blackwell.

This morning, we remember the life and legacy of Arizona Senator John McCain. The 81-year-old survived plane crashes, more than five years as a prisoner of war, and several bouts of skin cancer.

PAUL: Yesterday, he passed away. He was surrounded by his family after this hard battle with brain cancer but he fought it so well.

There are so many adjectives have been used to describe him. Father, husband, war hero, maverick, political titan, principled is one that stands out.

And it's fitting that this morning flags over the U.S. Capitol or the White House are in half-staff. It in the halls of that Capitol, you see there, that McCain spent nearly 40 years representing the state of Arizona. First a member of the House of representative and then, of course, as a senator.

Dana Bash is going to treat us now to a look at John McCain's distinguished political career.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His dramatic Senate return against doctors orders after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I've been a member of the Senate for 30 years.

BASH: His late night thumbs down that single handedly crushed his party's push to repeal and replace Obamacare.

John McCain's last big moment in the political spotlight captured so many of the complexities of his character. A stubborn man who survived many a brush with death who spent a lifetime looking for moments to shine as a leader and put country first, yet, forever, a hotdog fighter pilot with dramatic flair and white knuckle political instincts.

John Sidney McCain III was born with a storied legacy of service to live up to.

His father and grandfather were both four-star admirals.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: His father and his grandfather instilled in him a sense of duty and honor and country.

BASH: Young McCain's passion was literature. He was a voracious reader all his life.

MCCAIN: Hemingway has always been my favorite author in many ways a larger than life figure that I always admired a lot.

BASH: Yet, McCain followed the path of larger than life figures in his own family enrolling at the naval academy where he stood out for being a trouble-maker, not a future leader.

MCCAIN: I'm the guy that stood fifth from the bottom of his class at the naval academy.


BASH: He became a fighter pilot. His first combat mission during the Vietnam War was aboard the USS Forrestal. On deck his plane was accidentally struck by a missile, causing a huge inferno, 134 fellow sailors died. A few months later, McCain was on a routine bombing mission his plane was shot down.

MCCAIN: I was gyrating very violently almost straight down so I had to eject very quickly. I was knocked unconscious.

BASH: He found himself surrounded by angry villagers swinging bayonets. The North Vietnamese forced him to give this interview in exchange for life saving treatments.

MCCAIN: I am treated well here.

BASH: He was taken as a prisoner of war and tortured.

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He was beaten on a regular basis, you know, being hung by his arms from a -- the ceiling sockets pulled out.

BASH: When his father Jack McCain was named commander of U.S. Pacific Forces the Vietnamese offered John McCain freedom, he refused. It would have broken POW protocol release in order of capture.

MCCAIN: There was a correlation between my refusal to accept early release and my treatment. The treatment got very much worse.

BASH: Ultimately, they broke McCain, getting him to sign a statement admitting to claims against him which he regretted the rest of his life.

JOHN WEAVER, POLITICAL CONSULTANT, MCCAIN 2000 AND 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS: After he signed it I think he wanted just to die.

BASH (on camera): Because he felt so disloyal?

WEAVER: He felt -- he felt shame that he had let the country down.

BASH (voice-over): Finally, after nearly five and a half years in prison, McCain was released.

WEAVER: You still see the impact of that today, the way he was tied, you know, with the way that he can't raise his arms. His hands can't comb his hair. The things that we take for granted.

BASH: His marriage to first wife Carol who waited anxiously for McCain while in prison fell apart.

Captain McCain became a naval liaison to the U.S. Senate where he caught the political bug. In 1982 he ran for the House from Arizona, home with new wife Cindy and won.


Four years later, it was on to the U.S. Senate. Early on, controversy the Keating Five. McCain and four other senators met regulators investigating the failed savings and loan bank of Charles Keating a McCain contributor.

MCCAIN: I am, of course, relieved that I have been exonerated.

BASH: An investigation cleared McCain of wrongdoing but rebuked him for poor judgment. The episode sent McCain on a crusade to clean up Washington pushing campaign finance reform, fighting big tobacco, railing against earmarks.

MCCAIN: That's our obligation and our duty to the American people.

BASH: Everything with passion, humor --

JOE LIEBERMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: He is very direct. He is also very funny. He has a way of sort of -- teasing people he likes.

MCCAIN: Thanks for the question, you old jerk. He was a little jerk.

BASH: And a famous temper.

GRAHAM: To be a complete jerk to his closest friends and hug you dearly next.

BASH: In the fall of 1999, McCain announced his candidacy for president. As an underdog he got attention by being constantly available to reporters aboard his bus, the Straight Talk Express.

He trapped frontrunner George W. Bush in the New Hampshire primary but then lost to South Carolina where it got ugly and personal. McCain soon dropped out and returned to the Senate even more determined to work across the aisle with Democrats like Ted Kennedy on issues like a patient's bill of rights and immigration reform. MCCAIN: I announce my candidacy for president of the United States.

BASH: In 2008, his second presidential bid. This time, he was the heir apparent but McCain support for a surge of troops in Iraq and bipartisanship work on immigration reform hurt him with GOP voters. His poll numbers plunged.

He held town halls in New Hampshire, talked border security instead of immigration reform and climbed back.

REPORTER: The fact that you're getting a second chance, sir, what does that say to you?

MCCAIN: It means we are happy and how far we have come.

BASH: After securing the GOP nomination, he had to pick a running mate. A close friend Democrat turned independent Joe Lieberman was his first choice.


BASH: He never told you that?

LIEBERMAN: No, he did.

BASH: Aides convinced McCain that Lieberman's support for abortion rights made it impossible.

McCain still went bold. First-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. At first, Palin helped McCain draw conservative support he was lacking but after some bizarre interviews, many campaign aides considered her a liability.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States.

BASH: McCain would never say he regretted choosing Palin.

(on camera): He doesn't talk about it?


BASH: Ever?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he never will.

BASH (voice-over): The economic collapse in September 2008 ultimately sealed McCain's defeat. Still, he worked to stay out of gutter politics taking the mic from a voter who claimed Barack Obama was Arab.

MCCAIN: No, madam.

BASH: And giving a concession speech that marked the historic moment for the country. MCCAIN: This is an historic election and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans. And for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

BASH: McCain settled into life as a senior statesman, fulfilled a dream of becoming Senate Arms Services chairman and traveled around the world every chance he got, an informal diplomat and an informed senator.

When President Trump was elected, McCain took it upon himself to reassure world leaders visited 26 countries and four continents in the first six months of 2017 alone. Even at age 80 McCain liked to travel with and mentor younger senators in both parties forging close relationships.

GRAHAM: He is loyal to his friends. He loves his country and if he has to stand up to his party for his country, so be it. He would die for this country. I love him to death.

BASH: His July 2017 brain cancer diagnosis and treatment for it forced McCain to slow down but he hated pity. This is how he always wanted to be remembered. Paraphrasing his political hero Teddy Roosevelt.

MCCAIN: I've had the most wonderful life and career than anybody you will ever meet.

Thank you.


BASH: Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.


SAVIDGE: It should come as no surprise the tributes are pouring in for Senator McCain. In his adopted state of Arizona, flags were lowered to half-staff yesterday. He represented that state in Washington, D.C. first in the House of Representatives then in the Senate for on over 30 years.

PAUL: I want to go to Stephanie Elam in Sedona, Arizona right now. She is outside of John McCain's ranch where I know you've a couple of extraordinary sights there, Stephanie, in the last day or two. Talk to us about it.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's true, Christi, just to see how well organized the family has been preparing for this. And from what we gather, how much a part of the planning the senator was himself and how everything would transpire after his passing.

We know that he loved it out here in Sedona at the cabin as they refer to it which is about a mile up the road behind me. And this is where he spent his final days, in this very beautiful part of the country, no doubt about that. And as the news spread yesterday afternoon, we saw people here coming by, dropping off flowers, dropping off signs.

One couple just coming bringing an American flag and dropping it off here for the iconic son of Arizona as he had become after serving six terms as a U.S. senator here. So we saw a lot of that response starting to show yesterday and as you take a look and you listen to Dana's story there about his life and how humble he was about all that he was able to accomplish in his life, I want you to take a listen to the senator back when he was, you know, putting on his bid for the highest office in the land in 2000 and he spoke to CNN's Larry King and listen to who he hoped his appearance on some news -- magazines, who it might impress.

Take a listen.


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Monday morning across America, the news magazines came out and this man made the cover of all three of the biggies. He's Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

What did you make when you saw the three magazines Monday? First of all, how did you feel?

MCCAIN: Well, I thought that I never thought I'd live that long.


MCCAIN: Obviously, I think it's good. Sounds a little corny but one of the things I thought of is I think this might impress my children.

KING: Really?

MCCAIN: Yes. Because my kids, you know, an old geezer like me, it's hard to get their appreciation.



ELAM: I think it's pretty clear that he has their admiration and their appreciation and just to that point. Yesterday, his daughter Meghan McCain put out a statement that is really quite beautiful. I'm going to read it to you now just because it's so touching.

She wrote, "My father, United States Senator John Sidney McCain III, departed this life today. 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 is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations and his love. My father's passing comes with sorrow and grief for me, for my mother, for my brothers and for my sisters.

He was a great fire who burned bright and we lived in his light and warmth for so very long. We know that his flame lives on, in each of us. The days and years to come will not be the same without my dad but they will be good days, filled with life and love because of the example he lived for us.

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 (ph), I take comfort in this: John McCain, hero of the republic and to his 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. The dream is ended, this is the morning."

Beautiful words from Meghan McCain as she remembers a man who's iconic for his political service, for being a war hero, for being a true patriot. But at the end of the day for Meghan McCain and her siblings he was their dad.

SAVIDGE: Never to be forgotten. Stephanie Elam, thank you very much.

PAUL: Thank you, Stephanie.

Flags are flying half-staff in the nation's capital right now honoring the life of Senator John McCain.

We are taking you live to Washington. Because a lot of people are remembering him, particularly his former colleagues who have several things that they want to say about him.



PAUL: Political hero -- giant, a war hero, a man who just made people laugh, principled. These are words that we keep hearing about John McCain today.

The senator passed away last night. He was 81 and this is, of course, after we learned a couple of days ago that he had decided to stop treatments for brain cancer.

SAVIDGE: McCain summed up his own life, his recent memoir in that he said, "It has been quite a ride. I've known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make 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."

It is very somber day, of course, in Washington as the nation's capital reflects on the death of Senator John McCain.

PAUL: White house reporter Sarah Westwood is following the reaction. And I know we have reaction from President Trump as well -- Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Christi. And what we have seen is an outpouring of love and admiration on Capitol Hill from leaders around the country and around the world. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have spoken out to honor the man they came to know and respect during his decades of service in Congress.


President Trump offering brief condolences on Twitter last night writing, "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you."

Of course, McCain's relationship with Trump was complicated dating back to the 2015 campaign and McCain was not afraid to speak out when he thought the Trump administration was contradicting the things he spent years fighting for. But this is a moment for setting partisan differences aside and other administration officials, speaking out to honor McCain as well.

First lady Melania Trump writing on Twitter, "Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies to the McCain family. Thank you, Senator McCain, for your service to the nation."

Vice President Mike Pence also weighing in writing, "Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Cindy and the entire McCain family on the passing of Senator John McCain. We honor his lifetime of service to this nation, in our military and in public life. His family and friends will be in our prayers. God bless John McCain."

Now former presidents -- former political rivals are also speaking out to honor John McCain and to praise his willingness to set aside politics when he felt it was necessary to get things done.

President Obama, who was also once a rival of Senator John McCain in 2008, writing in a statement, "Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own."

The Clintons speaking out in favor of John McCain. McCain worked with Hillary Clinton when she was a senator from New York and when she was secretary of state.

The Clintons writing, "He frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country, and was never afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do."

And George W. Bush, former president, also was once a rival of John McCain in the 2000 GOP primary. He said this about a man who came his friend.

"John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I'll deeply miss."

Now we are learning that McCain made plans for his own funeral over the past years and he requested that former presidents Obama and George W. Bush deliver eulogies at his funeral. He had expressed his wish that President Trump not attend the funeral and that is a wish that he maintained until the end but it's clear that all of Washington, all of the country are mourning the loss of this political giant and this American hero -- Victor (ph) and Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes. Certainly showed how he could cause politics to be set aside, even with his passing, he was able to do that.

PAUL: Yes. No doubt.

SAVIDGE: Sarah Westwood, thank you.

PAUL: Senator McCain spent, I mean, some more than three decades in Washington. They knew him as a maverick as they called him and not to his naval career, of course, but also his willingness (INAUDIBLE) we're talking about to reach across the aisle there.

So we want to bring in Julian Zelizer. He's a CNN analyst and historian and professor at Princeton University. When you look back, Julian, help us understand the impact this man had on U.S. history.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, above all, he was a representative of believing in public service, both through his military record and his devotion to Congress. He was part of the Reagan revolution. He was a member of the House and Senate who really stood by many of the principles that Ronald Reagan has espoused and he remained pretty conservative through much of his career, although there were important moments when he was a maverick, on campaign finance reform, most recently on the repeal and replace legislation and being part of the gang of eight on immigration. He was willing to stand by the side of Democrats in favor of some legislation that his own party opposed. And so all of that is who Senator McCain was and what his legacy will be.

SAVIDGE: He was not afraid to speak out. I remember the time running against Barack Obama when a woman grabbed the microphone, I think we had that, where she begins to criticize and you'll see John McCain step in.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't trust Obama. I have read about him and he's not -- he's not -- he's an Arab. He is not --

MCCAIN: No, madam.


MCCAIN: No, madam. No, madam. No, madam. He's a -- 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.


SAVIDGE: Yes. That is, Julian, a remarkable moment.

I'm not sure we would see the likes of it were it not for John McCain especially in today's very polarized politics.

ZELIZER: I think that is right. And this is will be a more complicated moment in his legacy that he himself understood. The 2008 campaign because he picked Sarah Palin instead of Joe Lieberman, in some ways, opened the doors to part of his own party that he later came to regret.


And that is an important moment where he stood up to some of those comments, but at the same time the campaign was an important part of the road toward the world in which we live today.

PAUL: All right. Julian Zelizer, thank you so much.

ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.

SAVIDGE: We appreciate it. Thank you.

PAUL: We'll be right back.


MCCAIN: Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the president's subordinates. We are his equal.



SAVIDGE: We are remembering the life and legacy of Senator John McCain this morning. McCain died at his home last night after a battle with brain cancer.

PAUL: He called himself a maverick, someone who kind of marched to the beat of his own drum which meant trying to unite both sides of the aisle even if it meant speaking out against his own party. I don't know if you remember this but take a look with me here at 2005 when he was telling his fellow senators that they need to do the same.


MCCAIN: Merely preventing your political opponents from doing what they want isn't the most inspiring work. There's greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don't require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.

The Senate is capable of that. We know that. We've seen it before.

I've seen it happen many times. And the times when I was involved, even in a modest way with working out a bipartisan response to a national problem or threat are the proudest moments of my career, and by far the most satisfying.


PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) I apologize. That was just last year. But what you see in him is such passion for what he is saying. You can tell he really -- he believes this and he wants to make this happen.

And, you know, his years of dedicated service in Washington, they have drawn praise from across the political spectrum.

SAVIDGE: Joining us is CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns.

Joe, the tributes we know are pouring in for McCain's -- from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He had this ability to reach out and reach across as many right now don't seem to have that same ability.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's pretty incredible. You look at that video, it also sort of shows you what kind of fighter John McCain was, always a fighter.

So here in D.C., across the country, we have the traditional lowering of flags, happens all the time when a person of public life, of great note passes away, but this means much more, I think, in connection to Senator McCain because of his military service, because of his years in the Hanoi Hilton. Also here inside the city probably the biggest initial tribute came from the Democratic leader Chuck Schumer who floated the idea of renaming the Russell Senate office building after Senator McCain, the building where he worked, where it wasn't uncommon to run into him, the place where he was most accessible, willing to stop and talk.

And remarkable when you think about it. Now the -- especially the fact that this Democratic leader, not the Republican, is the one talking about renaming the building after John McCain.

So probably the way that a lot of the American voting public got to know him best was during the 2008 presidential campaign when he was the Republican nominee, he ran against candidate Barack Obama for the White House. Here in Washington, though, he was a fixture on Capitol Hill for decades representing the state of Arizona, that is how I got to know him the best also on the campaign trail where you really got to see the resilience that you saw just out there on the floor, the work ethic, the great sense of comic timing, willingness even to confront you and fight with you as he did.

He made many friends in the Senate over the years including Joe Lieberman who represented Connecticut. Also Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. They became to be known here in Washington across the country as the three amigos.

In some ways Lieberman who came in as a Democrat and switched to independent was the most surprising of those three. The relationship with Lieberman was interesting because when McCain ran for president, he seriously considered Lieberman as his running mate, even though Lieberman wasn't a Republican, which not unthinkable in politics, but extremely unusual.

Lieberman put out a statement saying although it was clear John McCain's life was ending, his death hurts, America has lost one of the greatest patriots and public servants in our history. I have lost a dear friend.

I was lucky to know him. Lieberman goes on, and worked with him and I'm comfort by the great memories of our times together.

He quotes McCain from the time after McCain was recovering from brain surgery, McCain said, he wanted to live as long as he could, but said he was blessed to live a great life, which is just an incredible understatement.


The Senate Republican leader, the majority leader Mitch McConnell also put out a statement. "In an era filled with cynicism about national unity and public service, John McCain's life shown as a bright example."

And that is what a lot of people are feeling in Washington this morning. Back to you.

SAVIDGE: Joe Johns, thank you very much for all of those statements coming in reaction to the death of John McCain.

PAUL: Yes. It's got to be so hard for your family because you're losing the leader of your life, essentially the leader of your family. And then to do so so publicly and they are expressing their gratitude for so many messages of love and support that they are getting.

SAVIDGE: In all of his political endeavors, there was never a bigger fan and supporter than his wife Cindy McCain.

Take a look at this special memory she shared with CNN about her husband's unsuccessful presidential bid.


CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I don't know if you remember his concession speech --


CINDY MCCAIN: -- that he gave. I have -- you know, I've been married to him for 36 years. I've never heard a finer speech out of him ever. And I don't think I ever will hear one as good as that night. MCCAIN: I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill 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.

CINDY MCCAIN: That told me, in so many different levels, it told the world what this country was about and what leadership is about, but it also told me that he was even better than I thought he was. I'm not kidding. I really mean this because it -- he just -- he always surprises me and not that he surprised me that night but he went far and beyond what I thought was going to happen. And I so respect that.


PAUL: That is a powerful moment, isn't it?

SAVIDGE: It is. Yes.

PAUL: Senator John McCain, I don't know how many of you know this. He was a war hero. He served his country during the Vietnam War and after that as a foreign policy hawk, of course, in the Senate.

This is a man who was a POW for five and a half years and he didn't need to be. We're going to talk about his legacy in a moment.




HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: You know when I first started traveling with John, I saw, in a very personal way, how, you know, he couldn't lift his arm. He couldn't comb his hair. He had -- he had trouble physically because of the torture and the injuries that he endured in the service of our country.

I saw the same grit and commitment that made him turn down early release from the Hanoi Hilton prison in Vietnam.


SAVIDGE: Just one example of the outpouring this morning of messages from leaders here in the U.S. and all over the world on the passing of Senator John McCain. McCain was known as a war hero and foreign policy hawk.

PAUL: He flew combat assignments during the Vietnam War. He was shot down, spent five -- more than five hell of years as a Hanoi prisoner of war camp.

And here is what his peers had to say about his military service.


GRAHAM: His dad was a four-star admiral, his grandfather was a four- star admiral. So when John talks about the military, he does so with a reverence.

When he visits the troops, he feels compelled not to let them down. There is a part of John McCain that, to this day, is driven by not letting people down.

LIEBERMAN: He flew a lot of dangerous missions during the Vietnam War. Probably the ultimate was when he was captured and, you know, beaten badly. He never complains about it but his live was altered.

BASH: When you saw the small cell where he was for five and a half years, what was it like?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: You just think about how you get through something like that physically and he has the physical scars to show it and the fact he sometimes, you know, can't move his arms and he can't hardly comb his own hair. I don't think people quite realize that until you travel with him because he has such limited motion from being beaten up, from being tortured.

And so you think about that and then you think about how you get through it in your head, right? How you get through it and emerge to raise a family and run for office and do great things.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: It was really remarkable. It was powerful to be in that place and to go into a cell and to see the leg shackles or the tiny little barred windows, and to realize this man didn't spend a few weeks or a few months, but years of his life there.

I asked him a question, because he had been there several years when a jailer came to him and said, we are offering you early release. This was because his father was a four-star admiral, the commander of all American forces in the pacific.


And he said no. And I said to him, John, you stayed three and a half more years knowing that any day, any minute, you could end the abuse, you could end the suffering, by just raising your hand and saying, yes, I'll take early release. See you guys back home.

How -- why did you not do that? He just looked at me and said, that would have been dishonorable.

LIEBERMAN: Here is a guy wants to make as much as possible every day of his life account for something. I think in some sense maybe John has always felt that every day he has outside of the Hanoi Hilton is a gift and he is going to make the most of it.

BASH: It almost feels like at the lowest times, at the times of his defeat, he shows his best self.

JOHN WEAVER, POLITICAL CONSULTANT, MCCAIN 2000 AND 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS: A life, when given the opportunity, wouldn't you rather choose to be big and good at the darkest moments? He tells us, character is what you do in the dark.

He says this all the time to me. Character is what you do in the dark when no one is watching.


SAVIDGE: And joining us now to talk more about this is Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst and former army commanding general of the Europe and Seventh Army.

General, I know that you met Senator McCain several times. So I'd just like to hear some of your reflections.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Martin, you know, it's interesting hearing all of these people say great things about him and I'll add to that, but I'll also say he was a tough guy to brief.

He was very probing. I met him a couple times when I was commanding the forces in northern Iraq. He visited at least three times during one of our 15-month deployment.

And he really probed into the tactical aspect of the fight. I tried to put before him my Iraqi counterpart, an Iraqi three-star generally, as well as my own sergeant major, command sergeant major so he could get a feel for not only what we were doing but what the Iraqis were doing and what the soldiers were feeling. And what I'll say he was a different kind of congressional delegation too.

You know, most codels would come to the battlefield and they would want to shake their constituents hands and get their pictures taken so they could rush back and be on the Sunday talk shows but not Senator McCain. He was there to find out what was going on, to see how he could help and to really ask the tough questions.

And he knew the tactical fight. He understood it. You could have a conversation with him and know that he was taking away the right things.

A couple of years later, I found myself as the commander of forces in Europe at the Munich Security Conference and I was in the back of a room where there were about 20 people, mostly ambassadors and a few -- more senior military people than this poor dumb guy. And he saw me in the back and he pulled me forward and started probing me about how we were engaging with the newly -- the new democracies of Eastern Europe.

And you could tell he was interested and he knew the questions to ask and I have to say the people in places like Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Ukraine they knew McCain and they loved him. So this is a guy who spanned intellectual (ph) capacity from tactical understanding all the way to strategic engagement, and --

PAUL: I'm so sorry to say that, darn Skype.


PAUL: Darn audio and technical issues have not allowed us to finish that conversation but we want to thank you, Lieutenant General Hertling. If you can hear us, for your memories and sharing us -- sharing with us those thoughts because, obviously, he got to see John McCain in a way that, you know, very personal way that we will never.

SAVIDGE: That we did not, right.

In other news. The Pope says that the victims of the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church were robbed of their innocence. The Holy See is directly addressing the sexual abuse scandal as he prepares to say mass before hundreds of thousands of worshipers in Ireland.



PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) towards the 7:00 hour here we will have more on the death of Senator John McCain throughout the day.

But we want to tell you about the Pope because he is begging for the Lord's forgiveness as he reflects on the victims of sexual abuse. He is doing all this during a visit to Ireland.

SAVIDGE: The pope made those comments just a short time ago in Dublin as he continues to address the abuse scandals that have plagued the church.

International correspondent Phil Black is live there as well with an update for us -- Phil.


The pope today has been visiting a place of pilgrimage for many Catholics, Knock in County Mayo, a shrine that marks a place where many Catholics believe an apparition of Mary, the mother of Christ, appeared around 140 years ago. And there he says he prayed to Mary for the victims of sexual and other forms of abuse caused by the Catholic Church here in Ireland.

And speaking afterwards, he referred to as an open wound, one that challenges him and the church in the pursuit of truth and justice. And he said he begged the Lord's forgiveness for these sins. He, himself, has said that begging pardon alone can never be sufficient.

He said that in a letter to all Catholics around the world just recently and indeed the victims of abuse here in this country, they don't just want words and apologies. They want definite action on the part of the pope and the church, a constructive plan for insuring this sort of abuse can never be repeated. And indeed that's what a small number of them, eight of them said to him directly when they met with the pope late yesterday.

It was, we are told by those who were in the room and have spoken publicly afterwards, a very forthright conversation.


They feel that he listened to them, that he genuinely cared. But today when he appears here, Phoenix Park in Dublin for a big mass before hundreds of thousands of people, they will be listening very closely to what he says on this issue in the hope that he does promise to do more for the victims of abuse, but also to prevent further abuse from taking place around the world.

Martin and Christi, back to you.

SAVIDGE: Phil Black, thank you very much reporting from Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland.

PAUL: Thank you, Phil.

We are following a developing story as well out of Afghanistan this morning. CNN has learned the head of ISIS in Afghanistan was killed in an air strike overnight along with 10 other ISIS fighters. That air strike was carried out by Afghan and coalition forces.

SAVIDGE: Seven people died overnight in Chicago after a fire broke out at an apartment building. Five of those killed were children.

According to the Chicago Fire Department two other children and at least one fire fighter were hurt as well. It's still unclear what caused that fire.

PAUL: We're going to be back in just a moment. Stay close.