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Maverick Senator John McCain dies at 81

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Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona was described as a “rare Washington figure who was liked and respected — for who he was.” XINHUA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who ran unsuccessfully for president as a self-styled maverick Republican in 2008 and became a prominent critic of President Donald Trump, died on Saturday, his office said. He was 81.

Mr McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona for more than three decades, had been battling glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, since July 2017 and had not been at the U.S. Capitol in 2018. He also had surgery for an intestinal infection in April.

His family announced on Friday that Mr McCain was discontinuing further cancer treatment.

“Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28 p.m. on August 25, 2018. With the senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family. At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years,” a statement from his office on Saturday.

Mr McCain will lie in state in both Phoenix, Arizona, and in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., and will receive a full dress funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral before being buried in Annapolis, Maryland, his family said.

Former President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Joe Biden were expected to give eulogies.

Vice President Mike Pence was expected to represent the current administration, the family said.

Alternatively affable and cantankerous, Mr McCain had been in the public eye since the 1960s when, as a naval aviator, he was shot down during the Vietnam War and tortured by his North Vietnamese communist captors during 5-1/2 years as a prisoner.

He was edged out by George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 but became his party’s White House candidate eight years later. After gambling on political neophyte Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, McCain lost in 2008 to Democrat Barack Obama, who became the first black U.S. president.

The vacancy created by Mr McCain’s death narrowed the number of Republican-held seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate to 50 seats, with Democrats controlling 49 seats in the upper chamber.

Republican Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was expected to appoint a member of his own party to succeed Mr McCain.

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