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tv   Sunday Today With Willie Geist  NBC  August 26, 2018 6:00am-7:01am PDT

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♪ a maverick remembered. reaction pouring in overnight to senator john mccain's passing, from former presidents to the white house, world leaders to his senate colleagues. fond reflections this morning of a man with an unbreakable spirit who never backed down from a fight and would put his untry, which he proudly served for six decades, first above all else. his wife cindy saying, he passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved in the place he loved best. >> no one has had the wonderful life that i've had. no one that i have ever known. >> the world remembers a true
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american patriot today, sunday, august 26th, 2018. good morning and welcome to "sunday today" with willie geist on this august 26th. i'm kristen welker in for willie. the country is in mourning today after learning that senator john mccain died, losing his battle with brain cancer, and tributes are pouring in for the decorated war hero who served more than three decades in the senate. we'll have more ahead. we'll talk to tom brokaw, chuck todd and historian john meacham about senator mccain's legacy. but first let's begin with kelly o'donnell who is near his ranch in sedona, arizona this morning where he passed away. kelly, you have covered senator mccain for many of his campaigns, his time on capitol hill. few reporters knew him like you did. talk about the reaction pouring in today, kelly.
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>> reporter: good morning, kristen. the senator's passing came at 4:28 p.m. local time, surrounded by loved ones in a place that meant so much to him, his ranch near sedona, somewhere tranquil and a sanctuary for him. he was a man known for his straight talk and his service. sedona at dusk. a slow procession and police escort carried senator john mccain away from home one last time. a two-hour journey through the state he loved and represented for more than 30 years. signs of respect and appreciation along the way. and a crowd came to pay respects outside the phoenix funeral home. the most personal loss belongs to his family. seven children, five grandchildren. his mother roberta survives him at age 106. wife cindy shared, my heart is
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broken. i am so lucky for living the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. daughter megan who let the public in with her grief wrote, i was with my father until the end as he was with me from the beginning. his love and care always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman, and he showed me what it is to be a man. the warrior enters his true and eternal life. from family man to statesman, respected across the political divide. a video clip was posted saturday of bill clinton reminiscing. >> what a remarkable man. >> in a statement bill and hillary clinton said of mccain, he frequently put partnership aside to do what he thought was best for the country and wasn't afraid to break the mold if it was the right thing to do. president trump, who was
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critical of the man, gave his best to the family. former president obama said, all of us are in his debt. from joe biden, whose son joe died from battling the same brain cancer, john mccain's life is proof that some truths are timeless, courage, integrity, honor. the older president bush called him a patriot of the highest order. and president george w. bush said of his one-time political rival, some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled. >> and kelly, for you this is really personal. as we said, you covered him for years, and i wonder this morning if there is a specific memory that's resonating with you that you can share with everyone. >> reporter: so many. but i remember once covering the campaign in 2008 and i reported offhandedly that senator mccain had incorrectly referred to the
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czech republic as czechoslovakia three times. a few days later he calls me to the front of the campaign plane. senator graham is standing there and he says, i'm organizing a trip for senators. we've never done this before. i want to take a reporter. i think you should get the exclusive. are you interested? and, of course, i was so excited. of course, of course. he said, we're going to czechoslovakia. and he broke up laughing, hit me on the shoulder and he said, gotcha. so many times he was feisty but he was also funny. kristen? >> he was, kelly, and what an honor having you covering his legacy. really appreciate it. kelly o'donnell, thanks very much. as mentioned, john mccain was in public service for six decades. savannah guthrie has a look back now on his life. >> reporter: john mccain was born to be in the navy. >> there is nothing more nobling than serving a cause greater
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than oneself. >> his father and grandfather were in the naval academy. john himself low on hijinx. he carried fighter jets off carriers. he was part of the prison system. his refusal to accept early release left him with years of torture and permanent scars, but nothing could break john mccain. fellow p.o.w. alvarest remembers the first time he had contact with people. >> he was shaking hands, slapping backs along the way, and i asked one of my colleagues there, who is that fellow, the guy with the shocking white hair? and they're like, and he knew,
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that's john mccain. i thought to myself as i watched him, he's going to be a politician. either that or he's going to be the world's greatest used car salesman. >> reporter: released from captivity in march 1973, mccain searched for his next act, relocating to arizona upon his second marriage to wife cindy. he retired from the navy and turned his attention to politics. he ran for and won a congressional seat, skillfully deflecting charges of being a carpetbagger by pointing out the place he had lived longest as an adult was hanoi. >> in arizona, this is a man we'll all want to watch. his name is john mccain. he was a prisoner of war in vietnam for six years, in congress in arizona, now elected to the senate seat of retiring barry goldwater. >> reporter: mccain began his long senate career in 1987, a republican that quickly became known as the maverick, willing to speak his mind, party
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allegiance be damned. his early time in the senate, though, was not without trouble. he was swept nup in the savings and loan scandal in the 1980s, and he made campaign finance reform a signature authority. his bipartisanship was fast disappearing from the political la landscape. >> a guy i fought with more than anyone in the senate was one edward l. kennedy. he would yell at one another, we would fight, then we would walk off and he would put his arm around me and say, hey, we did pretty good, didn't we? >> reporter: in 2000, mccain made his first run at the presidency, battling george bush. it did little to shield him from the bare-knuckled primary politics, but john mccain never
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expected special treatment. he made another run in 2008, winning the nomination and upending the election by choosing sarah palin as his running mate. but the presidency would not be in the cards. despite the sting of those losses, john mccain never lost his sense of humor. his flare for the dramatic remained sharp as well. returning to the senate floor from treatment for brain cancer to deliver a decisive blow to the trump administration's effort to roll back obamacare. mccain's deep faith of the good that could be accomplished in washington never faltered, even when his illness took him home to arizona. >> i love my life. i can't tell you that i've never -- for 60 years now, i've had the great honor of being involved in the arena, and i've loved every minute of it. the disappointments, ups, downs, wins, losses. but no one has had the wonderful life that i've had. no one that i've ever known.
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>> just incredible to hear senator mccain in his own words. now i want to bring in our incredible panel, nbc news special correspondent tom brokaw, chuck todd, nbc political director and moderator of "meet the press." andrea mitchell, nbc chief news affairs correspondent and john meacham, author of "the soul of america." good morning to all of you and thank you for being here. tom, i do want to start with you. you covered senator mccain for years as well. i know you forged a personal relationship with him, and you had the chance to interview him about his book "restless wave," and he told you during that interview that he calls himself one of the luckiest guys you'll ever talk to. how do you think he wanted to be remembered, tom? >> i think that john mccain will be remembered as an authentic public service from his military days through the senate.
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it was a great calling that he had in his life. and of all the politicians i've covered over the years, he had the best voice for being self-examining. he would look at his own record, he would look at something he said, and he would mock it from time to time. he was willing to go forth into the arena and be honest. people remember that vote against the health care bill. what they don't remember, unfortunately, is one of the reasons that he voted against it, he said, we've had no hearings. we've had no witnesses. there should be a process in place. this is an enormous change in america and we're voting on it late at night, and we ought not to be doing that. of course, we're at a stage now in american politics where things are expected to be done in a nanosecond, driven more by social media than careful consideration. john was not a man of social media. he was a man that had been raised in the military tradition, went through that god-awful ordeal in hanoi and then came back determined to tell the truth whenever he
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could. >> andrea, pick up on that point. tom is talking about his voice, his maverick spirit, the fact that he endured despite being a p.o.w. and until the very last days, he was outspoken, andrea. he wrote this statement in part in the wake of president trump's meeting with president putin sharply criticizing him saying, no prior president has ever abased himself more objectly as a tyrant, and iconic moment, john mccain voting down and voting against, frankly, a lot of his party the efforts to repeal and replace obamacare. what does the passing of this maverick mean in this new era of american politics, andrea? >> he was a solitary voice in the senate, even in his illness. because there have not been very many heroes in either party in the united states senate. and particularly in such a toxic
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political partisan time. that last speech that he gave on july 25th, 2017 right after his diagnosis where he said, ignore the bombast of the internet, of the cable tv, of the radio. to hell with them. go back to regular order. that was senate speak for, let's go back to the hearings and the examination of lejgislation before we pass it, the way tom was just saying. i'm really struck by the fact that he was so strident against what he felt were donald trump's really terrible, terrible performance. he called it the most disgraceful performance of any american president after helsinki. and for him to be that outspoken when, frankly, no other republicans really are in the senate is really singular and it just tells us how great this loss is in contrast to the rest of american politics today. >> indeed. and, chuck, that statement as
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kelly was reporting on from president trump two sentences long, doesn't mention anything really about senator mccain's life or legacy. and i think we're all reminded of that stunning moment during the primaries when candidate trump said, i like people who weren't captured. the tensions between these two lasted, frankly, until the final days. just last week president trump was out on the campaign trail criticizing him without mentioning him by name, signing a defense bill into law that was named after senator mccain without mentioning him. i've heard you talk about senator mccain in the context of a guardrail. talk a little about that. >> obviously there are a lot of people that are going to get into the trump angle, and you know what, in some ways set that aside. i think what has made this death more poignant for a lot of washington and a lot of the country is the fact that, look, there is only a handful of politicians.
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every generation thought to rise above politics, rise above partisanship, john mccain is one of them. and suddenly in this moment that we're in where our political environment is just in a state of chaos, maybe, is the kindest way to put it, but it's pretty acrimonious. if john mccain isn't there to build the bridge, who is going to build it? it was sadly expected. this is a disease that cannot be defeated yet, this brain cancer disease that he got. he fought it harder than most, and that's not surprising. but even in an expected death, the town is a bit shell-shocked, and i think it's because, oh, my gosh, who is going to replace john mccain? because there is no obvious candidates. >> that is certainly for sure, and john meacham, chuck talks about his fighting spirit. you have to go back to the beginning, those images of him as a p.o.w.
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he was offered the chance to be released. he said no. it's not my turn yet. that is by all accounts the very essence of a true american hero, someone who is courageous. he transcended politics. what is the legacy that he leaves behind? >> i think in many ways john mccain is our theater roosevelt. he was the man in the arena. he won some, he lost some, he had dust in his eyes, blood on his face from all the struggles and scrapes. but the political battles to some extent were an extension of the period you're talking about. imagine coming out of that caldron of captivity, five and a half years of almost unimaginable pain and loneliness, having the bonds with his fellow prisoners. but to come out of that crucible loving your country more?
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to come out of that crucible wanting to make the country that sent you there in a controversial war stronger and better? there's nothing more american. there's nothing more wonderfully human when we're at our best than the way john mccain reacted to trials and trib laulations. i think one of the reasons we'll revere him for a very, very, very long time is because when other people could have turned cynical, he turned into a constructive force for good. >> well, my thanks to all of you for helping us to pay tribute to a true lion of the senate. chuck, andrea, tom and john. thank you for that. and chuck will have much more on senator mccain's legacy on "meet the press." we want to take a turn now to david for the weather. i know you're watching a very serious situation in hawaii.
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>> where you are will depend a lot on what you'll see outside. floodwaters washing away lava. this is a retaining wall that collapsed on the big island. the resident there says half the backyard washed away, and again, more flooding is possible. let's go through the details right now. now a tropical storm expected to weaken through the day, 255 miles to the west, southwest of honolulu where they got hardly any rain. there is a continuing threat of rainfall. some areas getting 40-plus inches of rain, could see 50 by the time it's done. flash flood warnings and landslides continue to be a possibility. in the meantime, in the lower 48 we're expecting the possibility of severe weather from green bay to we are waking up to cooler
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temperatures. palo alto 60 degrees. we are seeing low clouds all the way through hayward and concord. expect partly cloudy skies clearing into the inland areas by the afternoon and temperatures will once again climb into the upper 70s and 80s for inland areas. >> and that's a quick look at our weather picture. >> i know you'll continue to track that in hawaii, dave. thank you for that. there's much more ahead this morning including a conversation with veterans in senator mccain's home state of arizona about what the maverick meant to them. (whispers) with the capital one venture card... you'll earn unlimited double miles on every purchase, every day... not just "airline purchases". think about all the double miles you could be earning... (loud) holy moley that's a lot of miles!!!
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we're back now on a sunday morning remembering the life and legacy of senator john mccain. people are paying their respects at the american legion post just outside sedona and miles away from john mccain's ranch. what are the people there saying to you about the life and legacy of senator mccain? >> reporter: thank you, kristen. it was a very difficult night for the american legion just down the road from senator mccain's ranch. it was there the veterans first learned the news. there was a moment of shock, a moment of emptiness, and one by one, those veterans started sharing stories about john mccain. >> he was one of a kind. >> reporter: throughout the night, memories of affection. >> he's definitely going to be somebody that's hard to replace. >> reporter: somebody recalling
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the news reports of half a century ago when they first heard of the navy fighter pilot shot down and took captive. >> he was not only a prisoner of war, not only was he bayonetted when he crash landed, he could have gotten out a lot earlier and he chose to stay in that prison. >> that's john mccain. he never faltered. never. >> reporter: it was from here that the maverick took his fights to washington. >> he did what he felt in his heart was right. he couldn't be bucked and i think that's what i admired about him. >> d >> reporter: democrats agreed with him and disagreed with him, republicans agreed with him and disagreed with him, but time and time again he talked about how important arizona was to him and he put arizona first. do you think he did that? >> i think he put arizona foremost because he talked about arizona, he lived arizona, he breathed arizona.
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>> reporter: this is his picture here with a p.o.w./mia display. >> yeah. >> reporter: you were proud of him? >> people here all respected him and looked up to him and think he did a great job for arizona. >> reporter: while outside the american legion, the flag lowered to half staff, veterans offering a solemn salute. a larger than life figure, but so many of those veterans say when they met him, he always gave them the sense that everybody was equal, every man and woman was just as equal as he was. he was no better than anybody else and always fought for his country. one of those veterans describing him as the greatest of his generation. kristen, back to you. >> so incredible to hear from those veterans who obviously have a very unique connection with him. and still to come, more on senator mccain's life coming up, including harry smith november 17th is national take a hike day.
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good morning, thanks for joining us. clouds covering san francisco this morning. we have a look at our micro climate forecast. >> a little foggy out there. >> yeah. we are definitely seeing this marine layer hug the coastline. temperatures are cool right now. very similar to yesterday. we are not going to see any major clangs in the temperatures. it is going to be a little bit of a shift as we head in towards the evening into monday. it is 56 in san francisco right now. hayward 59. oakland 57. san jose in the 50s.
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palo alto 56 degrees. i want to show you this quick coastal fog running a few degrees cooler in santa rosa. no major differences along the coastline. similar temperatures in fact twoebl to same temperatures we woke up to yesterday. >> yeah. >> expect a very similar pattern heading through this afternoon. for san shjose you can expect t see another day of upper 70s and mid-80s for inland areas this is going to set us up for that foggy fall-like feel heading into the workweek. i'll break it down for you coming up at 7:00 a.m. >> we'll tune in for that. thanks. a driver is under arrest for a hit-and-run crash in san francisco neighborhood. it happened at 23rd and arkansas streets around 4:00 yesterday afternoon. the driver hit and killed a motorcyclist and took auchlt police were able to apprehend
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the drive aeroshort time later. a woman rescued by helicopter. it happened around 12:30 yesterday afternoon. the national park service provided these photo es. they say the 53-year-old was near the stewart trail when she was thrown from her horse. she had no major injuries but we are told they are not considered life threatening. construction is finally done and the twin tapeaks tunnel has reopened. the $40 million project includes new rails. the upgrade to the 100-year-old tunnel includes a retro fit new drainage and fire safety enhancement. they have had to take buses
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around the twin peaks while the projection was under construction. >> in high school i use it a lot. i use today go to mission. coming from all the way out here i needed to take it to get to school. >> yeah. >> what's it like now? >> i love it. it's great. >> it will begin running two more car trains which will cut down on rush hour crowding. coming up this morning on today in the bay celebrating pride in the south bay. we'll take you to all of the festive sites and displays in san jose. that's coming up at 7:00. join us right now back to sunday today.
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. and welcome back to "sunday today" with willie geist. i'm kristen welker in for willie. and this morning we're remembering a giant. after learning overnight that senator john mccain has passed away at the age of 81. mccain had been battling brain cancer for more than a year, his family announcing just friday that he would no longer receive treatment. this morning tributes are pouring in, remembering a senator who was an american patriot and a true maverick. nbc's kelly o'donnell is near his ranch in sedona, arizona this morning, and kelly, you have covered senator mccain for years. tell us about the tributes that are pouring in. >> reporter: good morning, kristen. over the next several days, senator mccain will be honored
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here in arizona, then in washington, d.c., and ultimately at the u.s. naval academy, the place where he chose to be laid to rest. it was striking how here in arizona so many came out to pay their respects as a police-escorted motorcade traveled two hours from sedona, the ranch he loved so much, through the streets to phoenix, the place where he had also made his home for so long. it carried the senator, his family, and there were flags and signs and admirers along the route. daughter megan mccain shared an essay about her own reflections, and in part she writes, all that i am is thanks to him. now that he is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, the expectations and his love. also, his family remembers him, but the loss goes so much more beyond that. his support and love was broad and bipartisan. one example, senator chuck
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schumer of new york, the top democrat, says that the world will be different without mccain. because he wants generations to know him, he said he will offer a resolution to rename one of the senate office buildings in honor of john mccain. vicki kennedy, former wife of ted kennedy, said both men died of the same brain cancer on the same day nine years apart. remembrances here in arizona where it was his home, nationallily because of the status of john mccain as a national figure and ultimately at the naval academy because he was first, last and always a sailor. kristen? >> kelly, thank you for honoring this true american patriot. we do appreciate it. while the world reacts to senator mccain's death, there is other news we want to tell you about. an isis leader nin afghanistan has been killed overnight. this is the fourth leader of afghanistan to be killed since july of 2016.
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ten other militants were also killed. no word yet on who carried out the raid. pope francis is receiving a mix the reception in ireland despite the vow of the church that he calls sexual abuse. he praised and blessed thousands of faithful followers. it comes after an emotional meeting saturday with victims of sexual and abuse and those forcefully removed from their mothers and given up for adoption. there is a scandal both in ireland and pennsylvania and accusations of an alleged cover-up. this weekend marks the one-year anniversary of hurricane harvey hitting houston. the category 4 storm made landfall in texas, killing 60 people and causing $100 billion in damage. the nation approved 3 billi$3 b in bonds to prevent damage from
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future storms. and dave is back with another check of weather and that situation in hawaii, that other very serious weather situation. >> we could wind up with upwards of 50 inches of rain on the big island before all is said and done. meanwhile, honolulu gets almost nothing. on the lower 48 as we take a look at the week ahead, a humid wave starting in the northeast, severe storms in the upper midwest and great plains. snow on the beartooth highway in southern montana. we're watching that. triple digit heat
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>> and that's a look at your weather on this sunday morning. >> all right, dave. thank you. appreciate it. there's much more ahead on "sunday today" including willie's sit-down with jace an willie's sit-down with jace an aldean being at the
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town" debuted at number one on the billboard chart. it was aldean's fourth consecutive album to hit number one on the chart. but he travels this year with a heavy heart after the tragic shooting last fall that began when he was playing on stage. willie invited aldean here to "sunday today" just hours before his show. >> reporter: jason aldean and his band huddle for a backstage toast before jason is launched, quite literally, in front of a sold-out crowd at madison square garden. >> unless it doesn't go well, unless it breaks and i come up like i'm on "star trek," like an elevator. >> reporter: jason's packed show at the world famous arena is just the latest reminder that country music plays big far outside its nashville home.
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>> reporter: it must be a crazy thing looking at the marquee from madison square garden seeing, "jason aldean sold out tonight." >> yeah, it is. for a while there was a stigma about playing country concerts in new york. to come here to madison square garden, one of the most iconic buildings, and selling out, that means a lot to me for sure. ♪ you make it easy. >> reporter: touring with his latest number one album, "rearview town," aldean is a long way from macon, georgia where he first picked up a guitar as a young boy. >> i learned to play guitar because i wanted to sing with my dad and my uncle. they used to get in the living room and sing together, and i thought it was cool and wanted to sing with them. that's how it kind of started. >> reporter: he played local bars as a teenager. and in 1998, at the age of 21, he decided he was ready for
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nashville. but nashville wasn't quite ready for him. >> you know, a lot of songs we were playing on our showcase were songs that ended up on my first album and became hits. and we're playing them for these record companies in town and they're going, we just don't hear him. we don't get it. i think that was the thing. i don't think people really got me and what i was doing, because at the time there was nothing out like me. ♪ >> for seven years, aldean struggled to get the attention of the music industry. by 2005 he was ready to move back to macon. >> my cousin was basically like, i'm coming back so i need a job, i need you to help me find a job. >> reporter: but just as aldean was packing up his guitar, a small independent record label stepped in. >> we had a working horse in nashville called broken bow records. they were the only one to come that night. the owner came to the back after
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the show and walked up to me and said, welcome to broken bow records. we want to sign you. >> reporter: his debut self-titled album spun off the single "hick town." ♪ that's wait we get down in a hick town. >> reporter: and his first of 20 number one singles with "why." ♪ why do i always use the words that cut the deepest. >> reporter: aldean has stretched the limits of country music and expanded its audience by incorporating pop. ♪ don't you want to stay here a little while. >> reporter: and even hip-hop, rapping on the song "dirt road anthem." and later inviting lud-a-cris to do part of the song. >> he took the song and made his
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own spin and i was like, this is awesome. we have collaboration with miranda on this album. ♪ the whiskey is supposed to drown the memory. >> her harmony on that chorus really makes it. i also heard you actually were drinking whiskey. sometimes it's apple juice, sometimes sweet tea. you went for the real thing. >> video shoots are a long day. we were just sitting around, let's just go for it. ♪ all the folks down in lynchburg, tennessee. >> reporter: that unique sound has made aldean a multi-platinum star and taken him around the world. next month aldean will play a show in las vegas, almost a year after 58 people were killed and nearly a thousand more injured by a gunman during an outdoor concert there.
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the shooting began while aldean was on stage. >> when somebody buys a ticket to our show or comes into an arena to watch you play, you know, we want them to come, have fun, get home safe and come see us the next time we're in town. the last thing we're thinking is they're going to show up and never leave. >> reporter: as shots were sprayed, aldean raced to find his wife brittany who was backstage and pregnant with their now eight-month-old son memphis. >> reporter: your pregnant wife was there with you. that must have been absolutely terrifying. >> yeah, it definitely was scary, but i think about -- on one handy hate that she was there to have to experience it. on the other hand, it's like i know if she was at home and saw it on the news, she would have freaked out and i don't know what would have been worse. >> but you can be sure we're going to walk through these tough times together every step of the way. >> reporter: just days later and still in a state of shock,
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aldean performed a tribute to the victims and to the late tom petty on "saturday night live." ♪ well, i won't back down. >> reporter: the next day aldean returned to las vegas to visit victims of the shooting in the hospital. have you come to terms that you'll be associated with that night one way or another? >> yeah, and that's the thing, that's not something i want to my resume for the rest of my life. for me it's something -- not that i want to forget, but it's something i choose not to relive over and over. >> reporter: that awful night in las vegas stays with aldean, but the show goes on. ♪ when the lights come on, everybody is screaming, light is in the sky and everybody's singing. >> reporter: he now owns a massive restaurant, aldean's kitchen and bar. it overshadows lower broadway
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where he used to dream. >> it's unbelievable to come this far, you know, just in the 20 years that i've been in nashville and be a part of what's going on in nashville right now, which is amazing. ♪ >> a great entertainer and a whole lot more. well, you can catch jason and his band this fall as they tour their new album "rearview town." jason also talks about how his musical talents are being passed down to his children. let's just say one daughter might be rebelling a little bit against dad's country taste. to hear about that head to today.com/sunday and don't forget to see the podcast for willie's unedited interview with jason aldean. next week willie is back way sunday sitdown with one of my favorites, sarah silverman. they talk about her stand-up and
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her return to a show called "i love you, america." coming up next on "sunday today," harry smith with a profile on the courage and grace profile on the courage and grace of senator john mccain. well, here's to first dates! you look amazing. and you look amazingly comfortable. when your v-neck looks more like a u-neck... that's when you know, it's half-washed. add downy to keep your collars from stretching. unlike detergent alone, downy conditions to smooth and strengthen fibers. so, next time don't half-wash it. downy and it's done. hey justin, think fast! what?! every time! i get lucky every once in a while.
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so you have, your headphones, chair, new laptop, 24/7 tech support. yep, thanks guys. i think he might need some support. yes. start them off right, with the school supplies they need at low prices all summer long. now save $150 on this dell notebook at office depot officemax.
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senator john mccain was a public servant for six decades, a force to be reckoned with throughout his 60 years of service. he began in the navy and was a prisoner of war for nearly six years, and when he came home, he fought tirelessly for his country and his home state of arizona. he accomplished a lot over the course of his life, but it was those early years that ignited an unbreakable spirit and shaped how he served the american people. harry smith has more in our sunday closer. >> reporter: courage and grace. as the son of the son of a sailor, john mccain would feel the burden of expectation for much of his young life. he did not bear it particularly well at first. with his grandfather an admiral and his father soon to be one, mccain's attitude and academic performance at the naval academy left something to be desired.
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he graduated 894th out of a class of 899. in time, though, he would be flying bombing missions in an a-4 skyhawk over vietnam. in october of 1967, he was shot down, was quickly captured by the veitcong and became a prisoner of war. severely injured, his chances of survival were slim. when mccain's father became the head of the u.s. pacific command in 1968 s, the veitcong thought they had the perfect propaganda opportunity. they offered their prisoner the opportunity to go home, but he refused saying, not until the other prisoners who were captured before him were released. he would endure four more years of beatings and torture. that is courage. the war, which killed so many americans and killed so many more vietnamese, tore this country and that country apart.
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our streets and campuses were filled with protesters, veterans were at best ignored on their return, and at worst, shamed for their service. it was a scar that would not heal. yet as the years passed, it was john mccain who understood it was time for change. he would become the unlikely champion of normalization of relations between the u.s. and its former enemy. for then-senator mccain, it was not the most popular political choice, yet, he said, and i quote, it would be an abrogation of my responsibilities if i allowed my dislike for certain vietnamese to affect my judgment of what is best for america. that is grace. for "sunday today," harry smith, new york. >> courage and grace. and harry smith joins us live. thanks for being here. >> a pleasure. >> you covered him for more than three decades, so you have a lot
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of personal memories with him as well, and i know this is a somber day for you. i wonder if you could share your reflections of him today. >> you know, after interviewing him numerous times over all those years, i really grew to respect him. you could tangle with him and at the end of the day, the next time you saw him, he would be ready for business again. there were very few grudges in his life. >> he enjoyed those interactions. >> he really enjoyed those interactions. the more you pushed him, he would rise to the debate and be engaged in a debate with you. i think so much about that time of him being a prisoner of war, he said in his acceptance speech when he accepted the republican nomination for president, he said, that time in that prisoner of war camp helped me learn to love america. and at the end of the day, when he was fighting with the bush administration over torture
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policy, people said, well, these people are ruthless. and he said, this is not about them, this is about us. this is the way we're supposed to behave. >> and that's how he lived his life. he always put the country ahead of himself. it's remarkable. remarkable to have your reflections today. harry, thank you for that. harry, thank you for that. and we are back (whispers) with the capital one venture card... you'll earn unlimited double miles on every purchase, harry, thank you for that. and we are back every day... not just "airline purchases". think about all the double miles you could be earning... (loud) holy moley that's a lot of miles!!! shhhhh! ♪ what's in your wallet? shhhhh! so you have, your headphones, chair, new laptop, 24/7 tech support. yep, thanks guys. i think he might need some support. yes. start them off right, with the school supplies they need at low prices all summer long.
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now save $150 on this dell notebook at office depot officemax. ♪ ♪ because it's the foundation for white teeth. it's important to look after your enamel i believe dentists will recommend pronamel strong and bright because it strengthens your enamel, but then also it polishes away stains for whiter teeth.
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it is - - - - - here is a live look outside -- san jose - communications hill thanks for joining us. that is not the picture of the last sunday in august we are used to. we have a look at your forecast. it is foggy pretty much across the board out there. >> it is not even just the coastline but inland areas. that's what it looks like right now. look at that camera. that is the underground shots. you can see that fog and marine layer hugging nicely all of the plants out there. temperatures are really cool righ

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