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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  August 26, 2018 3:00am-4:01am PDT

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war hero, i'll be the first to say that. spent all that time in that prison, came back and you've been in the senate twice presidential candidate. >> both times lost. >> what do you want to be remembered for? >> he served his country. that's what i like to see. he served his country hopefully with the word honorably on it. that's all. ♪ they're americans, and we never give up. we never quit. we never hide from history. we make history. >> mccain's not in it for the wins and losses of politics. mccain is in it for the worthiness of the fight. >> from p.o.w. to presidential contender. >> the mac is back. >> he weathered scandal.
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>>-almost at the point of where he was willing to walk away. >> and stuck by his principles. >> i can't trust obama. he's an arab. he is not -- nope? >> no, ma'am. no, ma'am. >> to buck his own party. >> he didn't let ambition prevent him from doing what he thought was right. >> people always say that, we'll never see his likes again. we better see his likes again. >> at the epicenter of a legislative showdown, his true grit on full display one last time. >> he really showed the power he had to stand up to this white house. >> john mccain is an american hero, an imperfect man like all of us, but whose service to america i think was as close as perfect as service could be. ♪
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i don't mind a good fight for reasons known only to god, i've had quite a few tough ones in my life. >> john mccain lived a life of intense hardship, patriotism and perseverance. >> in the end, it matters less that you can fight. what you fight for is the real test. >> the former navy fighter pilot, prison of war and two-time presidential candidate found himself at the center of new fights. challenging his old party's president in his last week "the restless wave". >> he is taking on president trump and others. others he blames for the growing lack of civility in politics. >> it was a conflict that often turned personal in nature. as mccain's war record and battle with brain cancer had been mocked by the administration. >> people wondered when decency would hit rock bottom with this administration. it happened yesterday.
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>> his life has been about decency and honor. compared to a president who is unworthy to say his name outloud. >> mccain's clashes with the trump white house pailed in comparison to his other fight. >> this disease has never had a more worthy opponent. >> john mccain is very much a fighter. it was a tough diagnosis but an even tougher man. >> but in the end, the cancer was tougher. and mccain lost the fight for his life. over his decades' long senate career, the arizona senator made a name for himself with his approach to bipartisan ship. >> i spoke out strongly on other issues where i thought many trump was wrong. i have not been shy about it. >> john is at his best when he's fighting as a maverick. he is most happiest. he is most happy when he gets something done. >> at this very moment, there is
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a bill on the floor of the united states senate that would effectively kill obamacare. >> mccain's health issues came at a critical juncture. a senate vote on legislation to begin dismantling the affordable care act, also known as obamacare. the 52/48 republican majority in the senate left little margin for error. less than two weeks after surgery to remove a blood clot over his eye -- >> hey, how you doing, guys? >> mccain made a dramatic return to the senate. >> the senior senator from arizona is recognized. >> i thank you, mr. president. >> mccain delivers this roughly 15 to 20-minute speech that is sort of the encapsulation of everything he wants the senate to be and everything he feels like the senate should be. >> let's trust each other. let's return to regular order. we've been spinning our wheels on too many important issues
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because we keep trying to find a way to win without hp from across the aisle. >> and if there's one person who is not a former president of the united states who has the unquestioned ability to talk about that in a way that people can hear, is john sidney mccain. >> we're getting nothing done, my friends. we're getting nothing done. >> he's no fan of obamacare. he voted against it, but he different like the way it smelled. and he wasn't going to put up with it. >> president trump made the repeal of obamacare one of his top priorities. >> obamacare is a total disaster. >> in the hours leading up to vote on what was called the skinny repeal, the usually reliable republican was tight-lipped about his decision. >> i was there the night of the senate vote. and john mccain said we should watch the show on the floor. we had no idea what that meant. >> two republican senators,
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susan collins of maine, lisa murkowski of alaska voted against the bill. joining the entire democratic caucus. john mccain would be the deciding vote. >> he knew where he was going to vote when he came on the floor, and there was no moving him. >> and he walks back out on the floor and it's almost like a moment out of gladiator where the emperor is like thumbs up, thumbs down. >> no. >> there were gasps. >> when he put the thumbs down, when he said no, there were gasps in the chamber. even people who heard he was going to be doing that, whoa, he actually did that. it's a shock. >> nobody should underestimate john mccain's ability to seize advantage of a dramatic moment like that in politics. he's not uncomfortable on center stage. >> we talked about this. it was not so much a vote against the skinny repeal, though it was, it was a vote against the whole screwed up
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process that is washington today. >> and i think for a man like mccain, this moment allowed him to say -- i put my country before my party. >> when i saw the vote and the fact that john walked on to the floor and put thumbs down, i sat back and i said, that's my friend. that's the hero that i've had. >> when you came back from arizona, did you always know you were going to do it? or did you make up your mind at the last moment? >> i made up my mind on the way back and what the alternative was which was frankly a nothing burger, a quote, skinny repeal whatever that means. that's not why i came to the senate, tom. >> however, in december of 2017, mccain, as he has on the majority of issues, did support the republican bill on tax reform, which included a repeal of obamacare's individual mandate. >> the tax cuts and jobs act is passed. >> his opposition to trump does not mean he is a liberal.
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and i think when democrats criticize him for being a conservative, he says, well, that's who i am. >> it's a fascinating career to see, it's not about the victories he's notched. it's about the worthiness of the fight. coming up -- >> he was held in solitary confinement for two years. so, that tested his will to live. >> everyday was basically about one thing, survival. sically abo one thing, survival. i've always looked forward to what's next. and i'm still going for my best even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin,
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admiral, who was present on the uss missouri for the japanese surrendered in world war ii. for young john mccain, entry into a naval academy was a fore gone conclusion. as a naval cadet, mccain quickly established a reputation as a rebel and a party boy. >> and we really did have the most enjoyable times perhaps i've had in my life was that period at the naval academy when i ran around with a like-minded but perhaps not quite as assertiveness of young men. >> he was very knowledgeable and well read in history. he was a strong leader. you knew when he was in the room. he just had a lot of energy. always had superb sense of humor. that's what attracted him to a lot of people. >> upon graduating from the naval academy, fifth from the bottom of his class, mccain decided to become an aviator.
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his first experience was combat came when he was shipped to vietnam in 1967, at the on set of his deployment, mccain was assigned to the uss fore stall. and in july of that year, it was at the center of one of the deadliest naval disasters of the vietnam war. >> a very large rocket was fired across the flight deck because of a malfunction. it hit the fuel tank underneath my airplane which fuel flowed on fire. >> cameras mounted on the flight deck captured the horrific scene. >> there are explosions. one after another. the ship really was completely engulfed. >> mccain escaped the fire with minor shrapnel wounds, but 134 of his shipmates were killed.
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mccain was given an option, he could return to the u.s. or stay in vietnam. >> he could have cycled back to the united states after the fire and never returned to vietnam, but he specifically volunteered to go back. >> it would be a fateful decision. mccain was reassigned to the uss-ariscany. the missions launched from the deck were some of the most dangerous of the war. on october 26th, 1964, over vietnam, mccain's a-4 sky hawk was hit by enemy fire. >> he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and immediately parachuted out. he was injured upon bail-out, so both arms broken, a leg broken and knocked unconscious. >> 50 years to the day later, mccain reflected on those fateful hours. >> senator, when you woke up
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this morning, did you say to yourself, where was i 50 years ago? >> you know, i did. and i thought, wow, maybe i zigged when i should have zagged. >> mccain came to deep in a lake in the middle of hanoi. escape was impossible and he was immediately set upon by an angry mob. mccain was bayonetted in the foot and the groin, a rifle butt smashed over his shoulder, beaten and bloodied he was hauled off to a local prison, known to american p.o.w.s as the hanoi hilton. >> the conditions at the hanoi hilton were deplorable. it was nasty, dirty, infectious, heavy, heavy concrete doors, just a very imposing, scary, dungeon-like place. >> his north vietnamese captors interrogated him, but mccain would not cooperate.
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>> you were told during your training that the only information you were obligated to give was your name, rank, serial number and date of birth. >> mccain's injuries were left untreated. he developed a horrible infection and subsequent fever. the naval aviator was near death, but the north vietnamese had a change of heart and decided to treat mccain once they realized just who his father was. >> the knowledge that his father was in charge of all u.s. armed forces in the pacific made john mccain a valuable prisoner, someone who could potentially be exploited for propaganda purposes. >> his broken bones were badly set. his arms put in bulky casts. mccain was offered an early release from captivity, but he refused. citing the military code of conduct. >> a code of conduct required prisons of war to be released in
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the order they were captured. >> i understood that the vietnamese didn't single me out for an offer of release because of any act of charity on their part, that it would be an issue of exploitation on their behalf. there was never any doubt about that. >> and john mccain made an affirmative decision that he would stay in prison and likely die rather than dishonor the united states navy, his family's legacy of service and break the code of conduct. >> mccain was thrown into a cell with two other americans, norris overly and bud day. >> was there a time when he first arrived when you didn't think he would make it. >> i didn't think he would make it the moment i saw him. my description of him was that his body was saying let's die and his mind is saying we're not doing that. >> do you remember that kind of conscious thought almost? >> i remember the incredible joy of seeing two american faces and gave me reason to live.
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>> over the next five and a half years in captivity, he was subjected to repeated torture and experienced frequent bouts of dysentery and constant isolation. >> he was held in solitary confinement for two years. so, that tested his will to live. and his belief system. >> everyday was basically about one thing, survival. >> by christmas, 1972, the u.s. dramatically increased its bombing runs over north vietnam. in an effort to get the vietnamese to the negotiating table. >> and that, it is booelieved, what caused the commentator to finally agree to terms acceptable to president nixon. >> within 60 days from this saturday, all americans held prisoners of war throughout
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indochina will be released. >> as part of the negotiations, the americans held in captivity were released. five and a half years after he was pulled from that lake in hanoi, john mccain finally was freed. >> mccain had aged so dramatically from the young man who had crashed his plane. and when we came down the steps in california and was greeted and limped across the tarmac, it was such a dramatic moment. coming up -- >> the notion that anyone would question his honesty or integrity was so anti-thet kal to who he was that i think he was almost at the point where he was willing to walk away. away man: tom's my best friend, but ever since he bought a new house... tom: it's a $10 cover? oh, okay. didn't see that on the website. he's been acting more and more like his dad. come on, guys! jump in! the water's fine! tom pritchard.
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♪ when john mccain was released in march of 1973, he received a hero's welcome back in the states. free from his nightmare at the hanoi hilton, he resumed his playboy ways.
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>> he would acknowledge after he returned home there was a time when he was sort of finding himself again. >> his marriage to his wife carol, whom he wed shortly before leaving for vietnam, fell apart. >> i have no idea why i behaved irresponsibly. i did so. and it was improper on my part. >> mccain's naval career was also at a cross roads. >> it was clear, i think to him, he would never become an admiral, given his age and background and having spent the best six years of his life in captivity. >> mccain changed direction but stayed in the navy, becoming the naval liaison to the senate in 1977, essentially the navy's chief lobbyist. >> it is a job that really opened the door to politics and allowed him to see politics from the inside. >> he was one of the favorites of the senators to travel with. he kept us laughing most of the
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trip. >> and on one of those trips to hawaii in the winter of 1979, john met a teacher, 17 years his junior, cindy hinsley, from a wealthy arizona family. >> he was just a beautiful young woman and great spirit and it was clear to me that he was very much in love with her. >> john and his first wife carol's divorce was finalized in 1980, a few months later, he and cindy were married. he was also ready for a fresh start to his career. mccain wanted to run for congress as a republican. but where? he had never settled down anywhere long enough to call it home. >> i suggested he go to the state where his wife was from. he would be new obviously, but he would be new any place he went. >> from the start, mccain's opponents labeled him a carpet bagger, an opportunistic politician with weak ties to the area where he was running. >> he quickly deflated that by
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saying the longest spot he had ever been in was in the hanoi hilton as a prisoner of war. nobody ever raised that question again. >> mccain won the primary and general elections. but as a freshman congressman, quickly developed a reputation for not necessarily towing the party line. civil war broke out in lebanon and by the fall of 1983, the situation was a powder keg. u.s. peace keeping forces were in harm's way. a opposing his own party's president, mccain sided with majority of the democrats in calling for the withdrawal of troops deployed in lebanon. >> he has sort of made this a hallmark of his career to try to be a truth teller on all things foreign policy. and the '83 vote is sort of the first step along that way. >> in arizona, this is a man we'll all want to watch, his name is john mccain, now elected to the senate seat of retiring barry goldwater.
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>> after two terms in the house, mccain won election to the senate, but it didn't take long for scandal to threaten his political career. during the 1980s, the savings and loan crisis rocked the country. >> it was a mini version of what became the wall street blowup of 2008. and voters were angry. >> john mccain's old arizona friend and political contributor, charles lyndon institution was at the heart of the scandal. because of his close ties to the embattled businessman, mccain became embroiled in one of the biggest financial scandals in u.s. history, as a member of the infamous keating five. >> the keating five scandal was basically the accusation that members of the u.s. senate had been showered with campaign contributions and personal gifts from charles keating and that in turn they had intervened with federal regulators to try to get them off charles keating's back. >> the senators fought back
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against charges of wrong doing. >> when he came to see me in march of 1987 and asked me to do something i thought was improper, i said no. >> mccain was criticized for exercising poor judgment for meeting with regulators on keating's behalf, but eventually he was cleared of wrong doing. >> the notion that anyone would question his honesty or integrity or to think that he could be bought off on a vote was so antithetical to who he was that i think he was almost at the point where he was willing to walk away. >> but mccain didn't walk away and the scandal helped motivate him to take on one of the defining issues of his career, campaign finance reform. >> this nation needs to reform a system that is broken and we will continue our efforts to achieve that. >> john mccain, having gone through that whole keating five issue, felt that money was seen
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as corrupting members of the senate in the house and was determined to try to do something to fight against it. >> mccain reached across the aisle. he tapped wisconsin senator russ finegold to work with him on the cause. >> we had never really had a serious conversation and he called me when i was back home and hey, i've been looking at your voting record and i would like to work with you. >> they tried to get soft money out of politics. >> thank you very much. >> the way he treated me was like a mentor, friend, father figure. it was a relationship where i really benefitted tremendously from being able to see his abilities and his willingness to cross the party line. people didn't talk to us in our respected caucuses because of this. we were not at the cool kid lunch table for many years. coming up -- >> barack obama was beginning to walk on the mountain tops.
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i have the hour's top stories. senator john mccain has passed away at the age of 81. he died at his ranch in arizona after a year-long battle with brain cancer. former president barack obama saying mccain showed americans what courage means. the flags were lowered to half-staffed at the white house. and president trump released a statement expressing his deepest sympathies and respect to mccain's family. now back to "headliners" john mccain. ♪ as the millennium approached, john mccain, father of seven, decided to take aim at the top job in the country. >> it is because i owe america
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more than she has ever owed me that i am a candidate for president of the united states. >> from the very beginning, he was an underdog against the son of a political dynasty. >> george w. bush emerged in the summer of 1999 as the most potent, political force either party had ever seen in its presidential nominating process. >> short on cash, mccain skipped the iowa caucuses and focussed all of his attention on the new hampshire primaries. >> he just decided new hampshire is where he would start. >> mccain rolled out the straight talk express, his all access bus tour, 24/7 press conference on wheels. >> the straight talk express of 2000 was unlike anything that i had ever seen and that i have ever seen since. >> you had no idea what was going to happen at any moment. you weren't being spoon fed
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anything. it was just completely spontaneous. >> mccain held more than 100 town halls in new hampshire and the hard work paid off. he beat george w. bush in the state's primary by 18 points. >> he comes roaring out of new hampshire. everybody thinks he's not only the next republican nominee but very possibly the next president. >> but the sudden burst of energy in new hampshire faded with a bruising primary in south carolina. >> malicious rumors were spread about him and his family. >> mccain's daughter, bridget, adopted from bangladesh became the focus of one of the campaign's most vicious attacks. >> they were accusing john mccain of fathering a biracial child out of wedlock, all sorts of underhanded tactics were going on. >> mccain lost south carolina.
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and by march, the straight talk express ran out of gas. >> i announce today on this fine arizona morning and in this beautiful place that i am no longer an active candidate for my party's nomination for president. >> mccain threw his support behind bush and helped him defeat democratic challenger al gore to become the 43rd president. although he was a loyal republican, mccain bucked bush on numerous issues. >> mccain was taking positions on health care, on taxes, on guns, on the environment that were at odds with the bush administration. >> during the bush years, mccain scored perhaps his biggest legislative achievement when mccain finegold, his bill, his tireless work on finance reform was signed into law in 2002. >> there were times when it seemed like it was never going to end. john was so much fun to work with i didn't mind.
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>> mccain-maverick was more popular than ever and despite having come up short in his first presidential campaign, mccain's national profile continued to rise. in 2005, he co-sponsored ambitious legislation on immigration reform with democrat ted kennedy. enjoying broad, bipartisan support, mccain began to gear up for a second presidential run. >> today i announce my candidacy for president of the united states. >> he was popular. he was prominent. he had the money and the resources and the brains and the party behind him. >> despite a long list of donors and heavy-hitting political operatives on his payroll, mccain's campaign struggled. >> the fundraising estimates didn't pan out, and the campaign was top heavy and bankrupt six months after it opened the doors. >> it reaches a point in the
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summer of 2007, his obituary were the campaign was written. >> i'll never forget i was walking my dog in northern california and the phone rang and he said, will you help me, boy? will you help me? everybody quit. they're all gone. i'm not getting out. and he literally flew up to new hampshire in the middle seat on a southwest airlines with the national press core waiting like vultures to pick over his bones. when are you getting out of the race? it's all over. and he didn't. >> with nothing left to lose, mccain once again made new hampshire his last stand. >> you come to the town hall meetings because you want to see the candidates, you want to examine them and you want to make a judgment up close and personal. >> he barn stormed the state, holding town hall after town hall. >> the happiest that john mccain was ever in a campaign wasn't on the night he won, it was on the
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day you were within a point or two and you knew you could win. the joy of the struggle as he was surging in new hampshire, as the crowds were building. it was just completely inprobable. >> on the night of the primary, mccain pulled out a five-point victory over mitt romney. >> i'm past the age when i can claim the noun kid. but tonight we showed them what a comeback looks like. >> mccain's expected challenger, hillary clinton, faltered in her own campaign. in an upset, a newcomer, barack obama, won the nomination. >> there's two types of elections in america. there's change elections and more of the same elections. i'm not sure looking back in 2008 that we could have elected abraham lincoln as a republican to the office of the presidency.
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>> as the general election heated up, barack obama built a lead in the polls. >> we always knew that we had to take a risk, that we had to throw the ball into double coverage over the middle of the field to get ahead in a race where all the head winds were against us. really what the idea was was that john mccain was going to pick joe lieberman. >> i get a call from rick davis, who is campaign manager for john mccain's presidential campaign in 2008. he said, john would like to put you on the list of people to be vetted to be his vice presidential running mate. i said, are you kidding me? he said, no, i'm not. it was a bold idea. barack obama was beginning to walk on the mountain tops. and you were not going to defeat him with a conventional campaign. >> in his book "the restless
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wave" mccain expressed regret for not picking loeberman, having been talked out of it by his staff. it was sound advice that i could reason for myself, he wrote, but my gut told me to ignore it and i wish i had. >> then john mccain said, where else can i go? somebody said, hey, have you thought of this republican governor from alaska named sarah palin? coming up -- >> we surprised everybody, maybe too much. there were a lot of things we didn't know about her. we didn't know about her. gums are. i don't have to worry about that, do i? actually, you do. harmful bacteria lurk just below the gum line. crest gum detoxify... below the gum line to neutralize harmful plaque bacteria and help reverse early gum damage. and, now there's new crest gum & enamel repair... it gives you clinically proven healthier gums and helps repair and strengthen weakened enamel. gum detoxify and gum & enamel repair. from crest. look for a one-dollar coupon in this sunday's paper.
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♪ thank you. >> barack obama secured the 2008 democratic nomination before a record crowd of 84,000 in
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denver. at that moment, the mccain campaign was preparing to announce its vice presidential candidate. the pick was a closely-guarded secret, even top mccain advisers were left in the dark until the last minute. >> i walked into a hotel room and steve schmidt said to me, meet the next vice president of the united states. the governor of the great state of alaska, sarah pailen. i had never heard of her and never met her and shook her hand and she was lovely. and i walked out. and he said, what do you think? i said she seems great. who is she? >> pallen, 44-year-old first-term governor had made a name for herself as a reformer in alaska. >> she had a better than 60% approval rating as the governor. she had an ability to spark interest. >> john mccain looked at sarah palin as his bold move, his sneak attack, the one that the political world wouldn't see coming that would make them sit up and take notice.
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in dayton, ohio, august 29th, sarah pallen made her national political debut. >> as governor, i stood up to the old politics as usual. >> she gave a great speech. i think people watching that said, wow. he found a political star up there in alaska none of us had ever seen before. >> he shot up in the polls because it seemed to fresh and dramatic and woman and this is great. >> and we really did steal back the national media attention. we surprised everybody, maybe too much. there were a lot of things we didn't know about her. >> how long had she been governor? not long. and then the katie couric interview was really a disaster. it went off the rails. >> katie couric, then anchor of the cbs evening news. what sorts of things do you read? what newspapers do you follow? >> i read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media. >> like what one specifically i'm curious? >> all of them.
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any of them. >> that became the unraveling. that was really the moment where her response to a simple question showed that she wasn't ready. >> without question, the nomination of sarah palin was a cynical move to try to tap into the republican base. >> i don't believe she's ready to be president of the united states, which is the job for the vice president. so, that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that senator mccain made. >> i think it was seen as a mistake in judgment. there's an old country song, i knew what i was doing but what was i thinking? >> let me ask you some facts about your running mate. >> sure. >> governor sarah pailen. you continue to defend her, she continues to light up republican rallies where she goes. >> i don't defend her. i praise her. >> yeah. many people think she's just simply not qualified to be president. >> the fact is, she is a dynamic person with executive experience, leadership reform. she's exactly what washington
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needs. >> mccain was old and had been through cancer. so the idea of president palin wasn't some abstraction. it was a real possibility. >> heading into the fall of 2008, the race was neck in neck, but then on september 15th -- >> meltdown, the american financial system is rocked to its foundation as top wall street institutions topple. >> just before the first scheduled presidential debate, mccain decided to suspend his campaign to hammer out a deal on the economy. but in a meeting at the white house, he was largely silent while barack obama offered substantially more input in the conversation. as the economy cratered, the campaign struggled to maintain momentum. >> politically they felt they had to go after barack obama's early days in politics. sarah palin was. more willing to be the person on
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the stump to say these things about barack obama. and a phrase paling around with terrorists took hold. >> our opponent is someone who sees america as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country? >> the crowds got angrier and angrier and really any mention of barack obama's name would trigger a chorus of booing that john mccain was deeply, deeply uncomfortable with. >> i can't trust obama. i have read about him. he's not, he's not -- he's an arab. he is not -- >> no, ma'am. >> no? >> 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. >> i remember thinking that john mccain has no idea what he just did. but he just stood up against the
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darkest and ugliest forces in american politics. >> i knew that was the end of the campaign. it was really a surrender to the inevitable by a man who is the furthest thing from a quitter that you could ever imagine. >> in the weeks leading up to the election, obama had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. >> i think it really became a change election on the heels of the wars and the economic collapse. i think the appetite for change was almost insatiable. >> it is now 11:00 on the east coast and, keith, we can report history. >> barack obama is projected to be the next president of the united states of america. >> in arizona, as supporters waited outside the biltmore hotel, mccain gathered with his closest advisers. >> john mccain and mark salters showed me the concession speech
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and i read it with tears streaming down our face and i said it is incredible. >> whatever our differences we are fellow americans and please believe me when i say, no association has ever meant more to me than that. >> it was in that moment in time that it was clear that at clea john mccain would never be the president of the united states. >> he sent the secrete service home the night of his defeat and drove himself home the next day in a pickup truck and was eager to go back to the united states senate and pick up the work he'd long enjoyed as a senator. coming up -- >> couldn't believe he said it. >> i felt it. i said wait a minute, you didn't serve in the military, john mccain did. didn't serve in the military, john mccain did ♪ ♪
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john mccain returned to washington after losing the 2008 election. then, in his fourth term in the senate, he would soon add on to president obama. >> john mccain would become a regan tag nist toward president obama's leadership. >> it's time that president obama woke up to the realities in the world and reassert american leadership. >> mccain kept a lower profile, but continued to be, as he had his entire career, one of the biggest supporters of american troops abroad. >> the thing he is most proud of is being able to contribute to the national security of the united states. that's the thing he feels most strongly about, as he described to me. >> during the lead up to the 2016 primaries, an unlikely newcomer was about to thrust mccain into the spotlight.
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john mccain's war record came up between frank and the republican candidate, donald trump. >> he hit me. he's not a war hero. >> he's a war hero. >> he's a war hero because he was captured. i like people that weren't captured. >> i was outraged. i couldn't believe it. >> i felt it. i said you didn't serve in the military, john mccain did. you are saying anybody who has been shot down or captured by the enemy or tortured, imprisoned is not a war hero? >> john mccain's response was, you know, it is what it is. he didn't respond. that's typical of john. >> as a loyal republican, mccain endorsed trump, once he won the party's nomination. >> i think he felt it was incumbent on him to support the nominee. >> reporter: that changed after donald trump's lewd comments after an "access hollywood"
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comments were leaked. >> as a star, you can do anything. grab them by the [ bleep ]. >> it was the final straw. that's when he would not vote for donald trump. >> i have daughters. i have friends. i have so many wonderful people on my staff. they cannot be degraded and demeaned in that fashion. >> reporter: but, on election night -- >> in one of the most shocking u.s. elections in modern u.s. political history, donald trump came over the odds and defeats hillary clinton. >> mccain wakes up utterly stunned. trump has won. beyond all the other things about trump's personal behavior, mccain is most troubled about trump's world view. >> reporter: and his concerns didn't subside after the inauguration. >> what concerns me is his views on national security, russia, vladimir putin, and sanctions.
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>> mccain criticized the refugee ban and the handling of a controversial navy zeal in yemen. he defended james comey after he was fired by president trump. but, during a june 27 intelligence hearing with former director comey, the normally sharp-minded senator stumbled and appeared to be confused. >> she was clearly involved in this whole situation where fake news, as you just described it, big deal. >> i was on the air, live, at the time of the combey hearing and alarmed, to say the least. >> in the case of mr. comey, president comey -- >> no, sir. >> the case of president trump -- >> a month later, it was announced mccain underwent
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surgery to remove a blood clot from over his left eye. >> i was unsettled. it indicated there was pathology testing to be done and suggested there was going to be a follow up. >> four days later. >> maverick hero in the fight of his life after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. >> i was on the phone to john mccain when i heard about it. almost as an aside, he said i have chemotherapy coming up. typical john mccain, talk about things that are more important or bigger. by the way, i have this pesky cancer i have to deal with. >> reporter: mccain underwent treatment for his cancer. october, 2017, he made his feelings about the current political climate known when he received a constitutional medal. >> to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best
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hope of earth for a half baked nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any dogma of the past that americans consigned to the heap of history. >> john mccain's, the real deal, he's a giant figure in the life of the united states senate in this country. >> reporter: in december, 2017, john mccain left washington for arizona, to continue his battle with cancer at home. >> you have had so many lives. >> yeah. >> you are the son of a distinguished naval family, went to the naval academy. a bit of a wild child. >> to say the least. >> a war hero, i'll be the first to say that. spent a lot of time in prison, came back.
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you have been in the senate, twice a presidential candidate. >> both times lost. >> what do you want to be remembered for? >> he served his country. that's what i would like to see. he served his country, hopefully with the word honorably on it. that's all. ♪ a nation mourns the loss of john mccain, the iconic republican senator from arizona, who has died at the age of 81. >> we lost a great public servant, a man who served his country in so many ways, is a warrior, a statesman, as an iconic member for the republican party who was not afraid to take on the republican p


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