Remembering John McCain: ‘America came first with him at all times’

Leaders of both the House and Senate mourned the loss of Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday after battling cancer for more than a year, recalling fond memories of the beloved war hero turned six-term lawmaker.

“Great nations require great sacrifice from their leaders,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Maria Bartiromo during an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “There’s been few leaders that have ever sacrificed as much as John McCain. He was fierce, he was loyal, he could work across the other side of the aisle, but he could be the very best person in a battle.”

McCain died at the age of 81, after battling glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer that affects nearly 700,000 Americans. The Arizona senator and former Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, a friend and political opponent, died of the same cancer exactly nine years apart.

Before serving more than three decades in Congress and being named the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, McCain served in the U.S. Navy and was shot down over North Vietnam. After breaking his arms and a leg, he was captured and beaten, and spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war at Hoa Lo Prison, known to American prisoners as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

FILE - In this May 25, 1973, file photo, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John McCain is greeted by President Richard Nixon, left, in Washington, after McCain's release from a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. An aide says that McCain died Saturday, Aug. 25, (AP)

“Patriotism sometimes runs in a family, and sometimes the second or third generation takes it for granted, but that certainly wasn’t the case for John,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told Bartiromo. “When he’s remembered this coming week and the week after and the months after, it’s gonna be as a patriot. With all his strengths and weaknesses, all his accomplishments, it was really just the fact that America came first with him at all times.”

McCarthy added that there was “no one that understood the military better, or the idea of what happens around the world,” than McCain.

“When we would travel to other countries and sit with those leaders, there was always a person they would ask about, and it was John McCain, cause they knew him personally and they trusted him,” he added. “And that helped America’s foreign policy around the world during all different eras and different times.”