Family, Public Officials Remember Arizona Sen. John McCain

By KJZZ News, Michel Marizco, Jimmy Jenkins
Published: Saturday, August 25, 2018 - 6:35pm
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 7:46am
Annika Cline/KJZZ
Sen. John McCain is joined by wife, Cindy, at the Heard Museum in Phoenix in November 2016.

As news spread of Sen. John McCain's death, leaders across the nation sent their condolences to the McCain family and honored the Arizona senator's life with remembrances of his public service.

"My heart is broken," wife Cindy McCain said on Twitter. "I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the the place he loved best."

McCain's daughter Meghan said, "I love you forever - my beloved father."

President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday evening, "My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of Senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!"

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all flags in the state to be lowered "in honor and remembrance of the incredible life" of McCain.

MORE: Arizona Sen. John McCain Dies At 81

"He lived a life that most Americans will never know," Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels told KJZZ. "He served his country, he served his community, he served his state, he's a true American hero. It's a tough day in Arizona and this country."

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik called McCain a hero, and he blasted critics who only now heaped praise and respect on the deceased Arizona senator.

"I would just hope that the people who engaged in that just take a deep breath and don't pretend some sort of false sense of respect now," Kozachik said. "They laid their cards on the table. Let those of us who truly respect the man express our sentiments about him."

Kozachik said he was referring in particular to President Trump, who tweeted condolences to McCain's family Saturday after nearly two years of insulting and condemning the senator.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said McCain had an impact on his time in both houses of Congress.

In his first year in the House of Representatives, Flake took a lot of heat from constituents over his opposition to earmark spending. On a flight home to Arizona, McCain came down the aisle to tell him a message he would never forget:

“Don’t. Back. Down. He said you’re in the right — they’ll come around.”

Years later, Flake would join McCain in the upper chamber where he jokingly embraced his unofficial title: “Well, I was simply known as the other senator from Arizona. Which anybody who serves with John McCain is the other senator.”

Flake grew to appreciate his role working with McCain in Washington, saying it was like having a big brother that no one wanted to mess with.

Former Congressman Matt Salmon was a state senator when McCain first ran for the U.S. Senate. Salmon said before running for McCain’s open seat, he called McCain to ask for his support. He said McCain’s endorsement had a major impact on his own political trajectory.

"He was a force to be reckoned with in so many ways. He was somebody that I trusted and believed in, and always would do the right thing by America, and I'm gonna miss him," Salmon said.

Salmon, who is now the vice president of government affairs at ASU, said McCain left a bipartisan legacy and established a tradition of putting country over party.