John McCain has died of brain cancer at age 81, per the AP. An aide said the war hero, longtime Arizona senator, and one-time presidential candidate died Saturday. In more than three decades in Congress, McCain became known as a political maverick willing to stick to his convictions rather than go along with party leaders—an independent streak that has drawn a mix of respect and ire. Most recently, he has been a thorn in the side of President Trump, keeping up his criticism of the White House even while undergoing severe medical treatment in Arizona. The son and grandson of Navy admirals, McCain is a former Navy pilot. He was elected to Congress in 1982 and to the Senate four years later, replacing the retired Barry Goldwater.
Prior to his political career, McCain served in Vietnam. In 1967, his plane was shot down on a bombing mission over North Vietnam. He was severely injured and spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. Years later, after establishing his name in the Senate, McCain ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, then won it in 2008. But he and running mate Sarah Palin lost to Barack Obama. When Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015, McCain embraced his new influence as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, pushing for aggressive US military intervention overseas and eager to contribute to "defeating the forces of radical Islam that want to destroy America." Asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said: "That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation." (Read more John McCain stories.)