tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC August 25, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
he was always tough. he was tough in the war and tough in the senate. he was a maverick. he was fighting to make this a more perfect union. he had sharp elbows. he wasn't going to win any hospitality contests in the senate. he didn't feel like he ever had any time to waste. he was just an extraordinary -- he was an extraordinary man. he would be the first to tell you that he was like the rest of us. he was not a perfect man. but somehow, with john mccain, it made you love him all the more. my hope is, i know, obviously, like everybody else, i'm saddened for the family and all of the friends that senator mccain had.
and all he made through the years. but i am hopeful that, just knowing him, the little that i did over several decades. i think he would hope that others in his party would see his example. this is a guy who had the hell beaten out of him in captivity as a prisoner of war, who was given an opportunity to come home because of who his father was. and he refused to come home until it was his time to come home. until he -- his band of brothers who were in prison before him came home. if he could show that sort of courage, and show the courage he
showed through his political the career, hopefully that will serve as a great example to members of his party that need to show just a bit of that courage. with the crisis we find ourselves in right now. >> joe, at the top of the hour. want to recap and continue our conversation here. for those just joining us here on msnbc, breaking news this hour, sad news to share with all of you just joining us. arizona senator john mccain has just died. the news coming to us around 4:30 local time there at arizona. that bit of news spread by his office. now, we're able to report here at msnbc that senator john mccain has died at 81. he had stopped. we got that announcement on friday, from his family, that medical treatment was being stopped.
he had been fighting an aggressive form of brain cancer for a year. john mccain has died at age 81. joe scarborough is with us, host of "morning joe." you know this being a master of detail here. 1983, john mccain served also in the house of representatives. he was sworn in '83. he became a senator. his path has been long here in politics. >> it really has. he came to washington. obviously, that iconic photos of him coming home and shaking hands with richard nixon. he was returning as a prisoner of war.
he was a foot soldier in the reagan revolution. and he remained a committed small government conservative throughout his career. but he was always a maverick. he was not an insider. i remember david dryer, the former rules chairman telling me when i first came to congress. he said, there's two doors. you have to choose which door you want to walk through when you go to congress. you can go in as an insider or go in as an outsider. i think he meant that to encourage me to go in as an insider. i chose the other door. senator mccain was always an outsider. he was always a maverick. you saw that in 2008 in his presidential x presidential campaign. here was a guy that was supposed to walk away with the nomination and the campaign went terribly.
he was bleeding money. he was bleeding support in the fall of 2007. and everybody thought that john mccain was finished because he wasn't comfortable as a front-runner. this guy was a maverick. i remember my late father telling me in 2007, when everybody had said that mccain was out of it, i remember my dad telling me as i was leaving his house on a sunday afternoon to fly back to new york, that was the first year of "morning joe." he pointed at me and said, joey, don't forget mccain. he's coming back. and i remember laughing, sure, dad, sure. and sure enough. john mccain without the massive campaign operation, john mccain, the maverick, john mccain on a wing and a prayer, he came back and won that nomination. and i think that really, it
epitomizes the type of person he is. when you walk into his senate office, it wasn't cold. it wasn't corporate. it wasn't like a lot of senate offices that you walk into. there was just a bustle of activity. and anytime you went in to see the senator, you weaved through a thousand different desks and stacks of paper everywhere and people roaming here and there. it was not -- it was not the most organized office in the world. he was a constant -- he was constantly in motion and constantly moving. i think the one time i went into his office throughout the years where, there was more the silence. it was more contemplative, when i saw him in february -- i think it was february of 2017. it was so interesting, when i went to the hill, which i've been going to for 20 years,
every time i go to the hill, i would have jesse rodriguez say, who do you want to meet? who do you want to line up meetings with? and he would usually name senators or congressmen. i would say i only want to go see senator mccain. and the reason why is, i knew that he was -- again, he was fearless. he was a fearless voice. and he knew that he agreed with me, and with many others, that constitutional norms were being threatened. they were being challenged. and i knew that senator mccain would be the one person who would be fearless. sure enough, he move e proved t his final years, just like he proved that in vietnam and proved that in his entire
congressional career. he has been fearless in war, fearless in defeat. i can't think of another political figure, another public figure, gosh, since bobby kennedy 50 years ago, with his passing, that has dominated the american political landscape more, that wasn't president of the united states. his legacy is extraordinary. >> joe, as you're noting, fearless in battling sickness, as well. certainly, senator john mccain. >> yeah. no doubt about it. fearless in battling sickness, as well. and from those that knew him be best, this is a guy that took
his sickness head-on and fought it with everything that he had up until the end. you know, it's so interesting that so many people are rightly offended, that the president of the united states showed so little grace in senator mccain's final six months, final year. >> we have pictures we're just getting in from sedona, what we believe to be senator mccain's hearse. we believe they're in sedona, 6:09 p.m., these group of cars represent that at the moment. we're just getting in the pictures from sedona. again, the note we got around an hour and a half ago, that senator john mccain had died at the age of 81. this, as he was fighting a very rare but severe form of brain
cancer. we're watching it and maybe you can see it, too, in sedona, as so many people were gathering there over the recent months, to meet with him to, perhaps, talk about the stories you were mentioning in your experiences over the decades of knowing john mccain. >> if there are people who think that senator mccain was offended by what this president thought of him or any political figure thought of him, they didn't know senator mccain. he was a maverick. he marched to his own beat. he knew what was right. when he made a mistake, you heard from nicolle wallace, when
he made a mistake, he would be the first to tell you. it was refreshing. not only to interview him, but as a member of congress, i remember one night after a state of the union address, it must have been in 2007-2006-2007, i out of congress, had seen the state of the union and he was walking. he said, we got a lot of things wrong in iraq, but i really think that the surge is going to work. i think you need to take another look at it. and this guy, general petraeus, he's going to get it right. and sure enough, john mccain was right.
the surge worked. his confidence in general petraeus was obviously well-placed. and i thought what made him so persuasive was, he admitted the mistakes that he had made, the miscalculations that he had made, regarding america's entrance into the war. but like a lot of people, they believe he had a responsibility to work, to make things better there. and that's exactly what he did. >> joe scarborough, thank you so much. host of "morning joe." the memories, good ones of senator john mccain on this evening, 9:00 p.m. eastern hour. thank you, joe, so much. >> thank you so much for having me. appreciate it. >> we also have a statement from president george w. bush just into us here at msnbc. he says this in his statement, 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. john mccain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. president george w. bush goes on to say, he was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. and to me, he was a friend who i'll deeply miss. laura and i send our heartfelt sympathies to cindy and the entire mccain family. and our thanks to god for the life of john mccain. that statement, just into us from president george w. bush on the passing of senator john mccain. tom brokaw now joins us on the phone. veteran anchor here at nbc news and, tom, you just heard the statement coming from george w. bush. so heartfelt.
>> it's the nature of politics. they had a very bitter fight for the republican nomination for president. and you may remember that john mccain beat george bush in new hampshire. and that was stunning to the bush campaign. so, they went after john mccain with money, moguls and chalk, when they got to south carolina. and john mccain didn't have the fi firepower in terms of money and organization to keep up with them. but he did rattle the cage pretty hard. tonight, a gracious and heartfelt message from former president bush, which is appropriate at a time like this. we lost a great public servant, a man who served his country in so many ways. as a warrior, as a statesman, as an iconic member of the republican party, who was not afraid to take on the republican party at a time when a lot of people were just willing to fall
in line. he voted against the president's health care bill because he said, we have not had hearings, not heard from witnesses or had a process here. john mccain, a big vacancy in american life. >> we said earlier when chris matthews were on, he was putting together the license plate line senate, thinking of ted kennedy and now john mccain. are there going to be more lions? >> in this political climate, it's hard for people to think of the lions we had in the past. i came along at a time when we had mike mansfield with fulbright and great republican senators, as well. they didn't just tow the line as the party expected them to. a lot of that is now different.
it has a lot to do with social media. in those days, they didn't have somebody breathing down their neck every nanosecond, breathing down their neck to what they were doing. it was a calling to go to the u.s. senate and serve your country there for an extended period of time. now, people come and go more quickly to that chamber than they have in the past. john mccain was, in some ways, the last of a breed. we have senators who are there now, been there a long time, but very few cross the party line at all, democrats or republicans. and providing the country with an independent voice. i think we need more of that. that was a service that john mccain provided. >> tom, it's a voice that you know well. over the years, you've been able to interview and speak with senator mccain.
we have a bit with one of your interviews in 2017. i'd like to play that for our viewers and get your thoughts. >> you had so many lives. you are the son of a distinguished naval family. you went to the naval academy. a bit of a wild child for a time. >> to say the least. >> a fighter pilot in vietnam. war hero, i would be the first to say that, spent that time in prison and came back. you have been in the senate, twice presidential candidate. >> both times lost. >> what do you want to be remembered for? >> he served his country. that's what i want to see. he served his country, hopefully with the word honorably on it. that's all. >> have you lived your life, john? >> oh, yeah. i loved my life. i can't tell you that i have never -- for 60 years now, i've had a great honor of being involved in the arena.
and i loved every minute of it. disappointments, wins, losses, no one has had the wonderful life i have had. no one i have ever known. >> tom, that was part of the conversation. but he said honorably. >> there was a good deal more of it. that is the essence of who he is. he did have a life -- you know, he graduated near the bottom of his class at the naval academy. his father and grandfather were both distinguished admirals. and he became a fighter pilot fighting off carriers. i once asked him about that fateful turn that he made over hanoi. i said, how did they shoot you down? he said, i had ordnance left and i zigged when i should have
zagged. i stood at the lake where he landed. he was badly injured. landed in the middle of the lake. the north vietnamese rushed out there. it's astonishing he didn't die with the treatment he got at the beginning. other vietnamese officials knew they should keep him as a prisoner because he would have more currency for him. when they found out who his father was, they constantly tried to get him to break. and he would never do that. i talked to a number of his fellow prisoners. they were there five, six, seven years in the worst kind of conditions. john gave them great courage. as he always says, they gave me great courage. >> indicative of that stock, he had extra ordnance as you're recalling that story. one of the comments came from his daughter after the
announcement, tom. and the one line that stands out, at least to me and what is a very emotional note from her, she says, he showed me what it is to be a man. how was john mccain a man? >> well, i think he was a man in large part because of the occupation he chose at the beginning. it took a lot of bravery to do what he did. i thought he was a man because he was going to acknowledge his mistakes. he was honest with himself. he was honest with us. we had a strong relationship, with some time because i wrote "the greatest generation." it was one of his favorite books. he would refer to it. when he ran against president obama, he thought the press wasn't treating him well and he turned on a number of us, including me. he compared me a couple of times and it was uncomfortable. and i said, with all due
respect, i think i'm doing what i have always done, trying to cover the stories as clearly as possible. he would get steamed up about that. and then, two summers ago, i went to do a reunion of the prisoners and put it on the air. i could he him coming across the floor toward me. i didn't know what to expect. and he came up to me and he said, i made a mistake, tom. i shouldn't have behaved the way i did. i love you. i regard you. we have been friends in the past and we're going to be friends forever. i said, i can't tell you how much that means to me. >> tom, what was the last conversation with john mccain? >> pardon me? >> what was the last conversation with john mccain? >> the last conversation was one that you saw, not so long ago. he wanted me to have one of the final interviews with him. so, we were at his office.
and we talked about everything, including his anger at how upset he was. and he laughed about that. and he would call me. he was trying to get me to -- trying to say arizona is better than montana. come spent a week with me. and i would say, you know, senator, that's just crossing the line. i like our professional relationship. i think we have become friends but i can't hang out with you over the weekend. and he -- he would get that. we went to a yankee game together one night. what was always striking to me was, he could be kind of equitable of his criticism of both parties. i remember he was very hard on the republicans because they were playing, you know, just kind of according to the most rigid rules, without involving the public or involving the hearings. that really upset him most of
all. the senate, which was known as a great debating society, they were rushing things through on party lines. and that's what prompted him to give the thumbs down, as it were on the health care bill. >> tom, did you get the sense in that interview that not too long ago again, you had with him, did you get the sense, or did he say, good-bye? this is my good-bye. >> yeah. we talked in those terms. you see the whole interview, he knew that it was coming to a close, his life and his public service. and i tried to do that, in a delicate way, to get him not just to acknowledge it. that was not the point. it was, what do you want the country to remember you for? and he said, i want to be remembered for my public service. john was a rogue. there were times in his career when people didn't know whether he could be a statesman or just
a playboy. when he came back from vietnam, he left his wife. she has always forgiven him. he was a hell-razoishell-raiser. he was a heeroic figure because he was always around and you could take him on. when he was running in new hampshire, he would reference "the greatest generation," my book on world war ii. he would say, mr. brokaw is at the back of the hall here. he said, brokaw is the leader of the washington press corps. and he would say, but he wrote a good book. that kind of honesty that you don't hear from a lot of politicians. >> veteran news anchor, tom
brokaw. tom, thank you so much. >> we've lost a great man. not just as a war hero, but a public servant. and he is the kind of man who can acknowledge his own miss ta mistakes and tried to improve his country and his life, as well. this is a time when we need to think about that more robustly. thanks for having me on. i'm glad to pay tribute to john. >> what a tribute that was, tom. tom brokaw. >> bye-bye. >> bye-bye. we want to go to the white house. a space where we have been watching in the last couple of hours. there has been reaction from the president, who did tweet out earlier condolences. now, you can see, the flag at half-staff at the white house at this 9:25 hour. somebody who has served many
years there and knows john mccain well, as well as the statement, that i was sharing earlier from who also listed his love of john mccain. andy card, who served as chief of staff for president george w. bush. on this day, and you heard tom, as you know, so eloquent as always, describing what the country has lost today. >> john mccain was more than a patriot, more than a war hero, more than a senator. he invited people to be part of government. he's been steadfast for democracy. he chaired the international republican institute for a long time and gave a lot to spreading
democracy around the world. and he tried to make our democracy better all the time. i had a lot of tough work with him. he had sharp elbows, a quick temper and could be demanding. at the same time, he would step back and analyze what he had said. he worked to find a good solution. and he wanted more people to participate in the process. john mccain is someone i found not afraid to be different but also understood the value of getting things done and putting things on the right path. he would accept counsel and give counsel. sometimes it was tough to take. but he always came back to make sure you understood why he was doing it. i watched chuck hagel and lindsey graham. i watched how he treated his first wife. she stood by him in the prison camp in vietnam.
they separated and divorced. and i found that he would call her, carol mccain, and check in on how he was doing. he loved cindy and was wonderful to cindy. he was nice to carol, his first wife. i witnessed that because i had the privilege of working with her for a number of years with president reagan. i found him to be a complicated person. he earned the right to be complicated because he had given so much to this country in so many ways. and he had a towering dad, and a towering grandfather, he had to live up to. he had a towering senator in arizona he had to live up to. so, it took a lot for john mccain to do what he did in the united states senate. i had the privilege of working with him to get things done and i had to get him out of the way to get things done sometimes. when we were asked to speak at
the republican convention and george w. bush was going to win the nomination and he asked me to ask john mccain to speak at the convention, and john mccain was hesitant to say yes. we met for a good hour in his office. we said we encouraged him to speak and he could say anything he wanted. he could write his own speech. and i had read every speech he had given during that campaign before i went to see him. and i just said, be yourself and talk about america. and that's what he did. and mark salter, his aide, was remarkable in helping john mccain. john mccain stepped up and made a big difference, many, many ways and many different places. we desperately will miss him. we appreciate his call for the noble call that is the noble call of public service. and he not only answered the noble call of public service, he
made sure others could recognize how important it was to give the noble call and to take the call when it came. he was one who would say, get involved. stand up. be counted. don't go along just to go along. go along to make a difference and help people make a difference. >> sir, hang on one second. at the bottom of the hour. andy card with us, the chief of staff with george w. bush. if you're just joining us on msnbc, the sad breaking news we're sharing with you on this saturday. that's the passing of senator john mccain at the age of 81. this is after a battle with a very severe form of brain cancer. and he was announced by his family yesterday, that they were going to stop medical treatment. and the next day, a saturday, we have the unfortunate news the loss of senator john mccain at 81, coming in at 4:30 p.m. local time in arizona.
andrew card, you may have heard the statement your former boss put out. i want to share some of it from george w. bush. he says, senator mccain is a friend i'll deeply miss. laura and i send our sympathies to cindy mccain and the family. thanks to god for the life of john mccain. he was a man of deep conviction and a man of the highest order. you intimated and tom brokaw laid out for us with an anecdote on the campaign trail, was not always the same, was it, mr. card? >> no. there was strain in the relationship. they ran against each other for president. i happen to be talking to you from jaffrey, new hampshire. new hampshire was a state where george w. bush was campaigning
vigorously and trying to win but john mccain carried new hampshire. that meant that george w. bush had to saddle up and buckle his cinch a little tighter and go to south carolina and win there to win the republican nomination and the presidency. they had a strained relationship at the beginning. after that, it became a relationship of, i'm going to say, first, convenience. they worked together on things they agreed on. a second one, they worked with each other to meet the terrible challenges that the president was facing in iraq. john mccain was very supportive of what george w. bush was trying to do with regard to the surge. that did make a difference. general petraeus had the courage to go ahead with the surge and put petraeus in charge of it. and john mccain was right there with the president making sure that general petraeus got the support he needed and the surge worked.
>> andrew card, former chief of staff for george w. bush. thank you for sharing your stories of john mccain, as we remember him and this loss of a very prominent american. a grand american, as andrea mitchell said earlier this evening. we have statements also from other presidents that have been coming in that we've just received here, at msnbc. this one from barack obama. he says, john mccain and i were members of different generations. we came from different backgrounds and competed at the highest level of politics. but we shared a fidelity to something higher, the ideals for what generations of americans and immigrants have fought alike. we saw our political battles as an opportunity to serve's stewards of the high ideals at home and to advance them through the world. we saw this country as a place
where anything is possible and citizenship as our patriotic obligation and forever remains that way. few of us have been tested the way john once was or required to show the courage that he did. all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. at john's best, he showed us what that means and for that we are all in his debt. our condolences to cindy and his family, president barack obama. also, a statement coming in from bill clinton. this and secretary clinton, as well. in their statement it reads, senator john mccain believed that every citizen has a responsibility to make something of the freedoms given by our constitution. and from his heroic service in the navy to his 35 years in
congress, he lived by his creed every day. he was a skilled, tough politician, as well as a trusted colleague, alongside hillary was honored to serve in the senate. he frequently put partisanship aside to do what he thought was best for the country and was never afraid to break the mold, if it was the right thing to do. i will always be especially grateful for his leadership in our successful efforts to normalize relations with vietnam. our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, cindy, his mother, roberta, his children and his entire family. that statement from president clinton and secretary clinton on the passing of john mccain. passed on to us by andrea mitchell, who joins us, again. andrea, as chief foreign affairs correspondent, as host of your show on msnbc, and as you remember all of the interactions over the decades with john mccain, you see, the reaction
from presidents of both sides remembering in very affectionate ways senator john mccain. >> in fact, you were just reading what bill clinton had to say to memorialize what john mccain did in helping bill clinton to normalize relations with vietnam. i was covering the white house at the time and was very involved in the coverage then of the fact that both john mccain and john kerry, who were on opposite sides of the war, both serving in the war, but having come back and having been tortured and stayed in the hanoi hilton for five years, and john kerry's opposition to the war was not something he appreciated. yet, in the senate, they came together and worked together on a commission to try to recover p.o.w. remains and account for the missing from that terrible war and also to help bill clinton with the vietnam
memorial here in washington, d.c., to reach the stage, where he, who was criticized sharply by his critics, when he was running in 1992, bill clinton as president, for not serving in vietnam. they helped him normalize relations with vietnam. it was an incredibly honorable thing that john mccain did because he certainly, most likely did not respect what bill clinton did during the war. he was accused of being a draft dodger. that was a big issue in the new hampshire primary in 1992. mccain validated bill clinton's efforts to reach out and reach reconciliation with vietnam. it was a foreign policy decision that helped to heal the wounds of that war. you mentioned roberta mccain. she is 106 years old. her sister died just years ago. they were going to france every summer, the mccain sisters, to
drive around the south of france and enjoy the summer vacation. for roberta mccain to have lost her son this way, being honored by the nation he served for so long, has to be quite a moment. the son and grandson of four-star admirals, certainly we've all recounted out john mccain at annapolis, was at the bottom of his class. but he knew he had that legacy and he was going to stand up and end up. he chose to be a naval aviator. and we know how bravely he did those missions and of course had that terrible fate to become a prisoner of war. i'm also struck, if you have a moment, by the closing paragraph of john mccain's final book, with mark salter, "the restless wave." if i can just share those
thoughts because you know that ernest hemingway was a literary hero of his. nicolle wallace, our colleague, was recounting one day in the campaign in '08, when they were in some no-name motel in the midwest and he was reading "the snows of kilimanjaro" to nicolle and the rest of the staff. what an ingrate i would be to curse the fate that includes the blessed life i led. i give life to those blessings and the love of those who bless med with theirs. the bell tolls with me. i knew it would. i tried the best i could to stay a part of the main. i hope those who mourn my passipass ing and those that don't, will celebrate a happy life, live in imperfect service to a country made of ideals, whose continued success is the hope of the world. and i wish all of you great adventures, good company, and lives as lucky as mine. the final words that he wrote.
>> a beautiful passage, andrea. and certainly reflective of the stories that you and others who have known him for so long, have been sharing with us today. you had many interactions. what stands out to you? is it the last interaction and what was that like? >> there were so many years that i covered the hill. for four years up there, following around, as all of us were, because he was always a leader. and i knew that he had served, in fact, as the naval attache, to the senators. after he came back from vietnam, he had service in the senate and ran for the house and the senate. he was a great leader in the
senate and to end up in the armed services committee. i think it was his humor and how cranky and funny and off the cuff. for many of us, we'll always think of the straight talk express and the way he ran in 2000. that was the campaign he ran the way he wanted to run. >> andrea, one of the indications that these reflections of who john mccain was, it is seen in his children, right? seven children, four grandchildren. after the passing, meghan mccain wrote this and shared it on her twitter account. i just want to read it for those who did not hear it earlier, to get a sense of what he was like as a family man. this is what meghan mccain wrote. she says, i was with my father at his end, as he was with me at my beginning. in the 33 years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me,
encouraged me and supported me in all things. he loved me and i loved him. he taught me how to live. his love and his care, ever-present, always unfailing, took me from a girl to a woman. and he showed me what it is to be a man. what was he like, andrea, as a family man? >> i remember flying up to new hampshire. he was in the back of the plane with jimmy, who was, of course, following in his foot path into the navy. he was a proud father. so proud of meaga meghan. i think of meghan on "the view" and with joe biden. december 13th, it was six or seven days after his last vote in the senate and he had retreated to sedona to fight this illness as best he could and be in the place he loved. he never returned to washington after that, the ravages of his cancer treatment was just so
dreadful. they say, you know, as debilitating as the cancer itself. but the fact he fought so hard and was so courageous. and she was facing the reality then. and that day, joe biden was a guest on the set. he walked over, comforted her and said, your father helped my beau, my son, beau, get through so much. and of course, beau biden had the same terrible glioblastoma, the brain cancer that teddy kennedy died of on this exact day, which is so remarkable, his great friend, john mccain. they all knew that this diagnosis of an incurable brain cancer was going to take their lives. but john mccain had such a bond with joe biden over that. and biden, in reaching out to meghan, walking across the set
and holding her happened and talking to her about what john mccain meant to him and his son. he was devastated, really, in south carolina, in that primary in 2000 by attacks from the bush camp and the fact they got together and worked so closely on iraq issues, is remarkable. it says so much about both of them. some of the attacks were racially motivated. it was a hard-fought campaign. and there were allegations about the adopted child in that family. and mccain was devastated by that, the whole family was. and very angry, very bitter. he could be angry when he was angry. and he was completely justified in that case. he was completely devoted to the children and the grandchildren and to cindy. they went through so much together, the melanoma, at least twice that i recall. coming back from the war and
rebuilding his life. as andy card said, despite the difficulties with his first marriage and many of the marriages did break up under the stress of all of the terrible things that they experienced, he always was close with her. she worked in the white house and the reagan white house. he was working on capitol hill. so, there's just a lot of memories that have to do with family and the fact he was surrounded by his family, that jimmy had come home from service, they were with him in arizona in the ranch they love so much, is a comfort, i'm sure, to all of them and to all the people who love them. >> andrea, thank you so much. i know you have a lot of programming ahead of you this evening. our chief foreign affairs of msnbc "andrea mitchell reports" thank you so much for sharing
those stories with us. i want to take you to the white house. here, we will see, live pictures, and that is the american flag at half-staff, as it is now being flown in remembrance of senator john mccain. if you're just joining us now, is dead at the age of 81. getting this news just hours ago. we go to the white house. and jeff bennett. certainly, you've been watching the coverage of the stories. it could fill 100 books at this moment, what he has done for a public servant, and the simplicity that drove him, just to be that, a public servant. how is the white house reacting to the passing of what so many have called this lion of the senate? >> richard, as you mentioned this evening, the flag above the white house is flying at
half-staff. the lights are on at the residence meaning that president trump is awake and presumably watching this coverage on cable television. the two-sentence tweet we got from the president is likely all we're hear from the president and the white house to mark the passing of senator john mccain. the president saying, my deepest sympathies and respect go out to john mccain. no making mention of john mccain the man, his life, the legacy, that ends with an exclamation point. and to talk too much about president trump feels inappropriate and disrespectful, given the way that president trump disparaged john mccain over the last six months. but listening to the recollections of people that knew john mccain better than i ever did, i recall when i was on the hill as a reporter, covering
the senate for a different news outlet, and the time i was going to get to interview john mccain or encounter him for an interview, i was nervous and i went over the question i had prepared for him about eight or n nine times in my head. and i asked my question, as the elevator doors closed, he said, that was a stupid question. i asked him a different question. he answered it. and he ended his response and said, not such a stupid question, there are a bunch of hill reporters that had the same encounter with senator john mccain, where he dressed them down. a lot of them wear that badge of honor. that's why you hear a lot of people refer to senator john mccain being a man of intelligence, a man of courage, a man of character. frankly, a peerless public servant. it's one of the reasons that chuck schumer, the senate democratic leader is going to issue a resolution, to have the
russell senate office building named in honor of john mccain, the russell building the oldest senate building on the other side of pennsylvania avenue. >> we have pictures earlier of this group of cars arriving. we thought it was departing. they're departing what we believe, this has -- is the hors hearse, as well as accompanying vehicles of john mccain. the majority of them arrived in the last hour or so. now, you see a very slow creep, as they leave the sedona residence of senator john mccain, led by law enforcement vehicle and several black suvs, as well as then, in that mix, the hearse, that we can see now, in the middle of the screen. we received the information of the passing of senator john mccain at 4:30 local time there
in sedona. and now, we can see the number of vehicles. we got reporting that many had gathered in the home there in sedona. now,sedona. now we see this corden leaving with a hearse, it appears to be the third vehicle as they now get closer to the main road. geoff bennett, if you're still with us, what has been the reaction in the beltway there in washington, d.c. >> we see the flag at the top of the white house. what about on capitol hill? >> it's just a remarkable sense of sadness, richard. it's a sad time for our politics really given the space that john mccain occupied. i heard chuck todd earlier refer to john mccain as the lion of the senate. lion of the senate in the singular sense. there are no others. there are no others that come to
mind. the republican party has been -- remained largely in the image of donald trump. there are no people really who aren't retiring who work across the aisle in the way that john mccain did. i can recall back in 2010, then president obama had a town hall meeting on the then health care bill that he was pushing. and it was a town hall meeting. he brought in all the senators and brought in all the cameras. you saw then senator mccain press barack obama on these issues. it got to a point, it got so heated president obama had to say look, hey, i won the election. it's in essence, get over it. now fast forward some years later and you see this statement from barack obama where he says despite our differences, we worked together for a greater good. that -- it speaks volumes who the man was and his loss i think is echoing all over the beltway, certainly around the hill, the
house is on recess. the senate obviously this is a weekend they'll come back into session on tuesday. but it's hard to just give voice to the profound sadness as we see this procession here and the hearse carrying his body. >> you're there right in the middle of it there in the belt way at the white house. the sorrow being felt all the way across the country. geoff bennett, thank four getting in front of the camera for us. michael beschloss, u.s. historian. presidential historian. you've been around. you've seen a lot of different things happen. this is not one of those good days, right. >> these are not the sort of headlines that we enjoy talking about. and yet, at the same time, how do we put this into could ntext? where will this brick us on this sad moment today as john mccain
dies? >> well, richard, this great american life, john mccain who was the -- as has been said the son and grandson of these great navy figures of world war ii in the time of vietnam. growing up as this hell raiser. this almost loutish figure as he described himself at annapolis becoming a great figure in american history and certainly in the history of the senate. we've talks a lot about his senate years tonight. something else occurs to me. exactly ten years ago, next week, john mccain hasse was nominated by the republican party for president of the united states. and we sometimes think of this as inevitable that barack obama would have been elected and that john mccain was never really in contention. but i looked up just a day ago. in early september, 2008, john mccain was running four points ahead of barack obama, mainly for the first half of september,
2008. right before the lehman brothers crash and the economic collapse. this was someone who at least had a serious chance of becoming president of the united states. he was defeated by barack obama. just as in 2000, he was defeated in the primaries by george w. bush. and it is so clack john mccain, there was a report that i presume is true last spring that when john mccain is laid to rest and the plans are to do that from the national cathedral, washington cathedral here in the capital, he asked that at least among those giving his eulogies would be george w. bush, barack obama. they were always rivals, never enemies. >> michael beschloss, as a presidential historian as you put it in context how he'll be remembered, how will senator john mccain be remembered? i was playing a little bit
earlier whether he tom brokaw sat with him. >> right. >> and it was so simple as a public bent. right? that is, simply all he wanted. how will he be compared to the other as was said earlier, the other lions from the senate? >> well, one way of looking at it, in the late 1950s, there was in the senate painted on the wall they had places on a mural to paint what they wanted to be the great senators in american history and john kennedy who was a senator at the time was asked to help choose who had be the great senators. people like robert lafollette and daniel webster, all these grand figures. if we were doing that nowadays, john mccain would be one of the first portraits we would paint there. you're doing the history of the senate. this is one of the great leaders in 200 years. but the other thing to look at is, the character of the man. who this was. this was someone who as we all
know now for 5 1/2 years in north nooet vietnam resisted torture, was there in solitary confinement for a long period of time. went on from that without by e theness bitterness. had a career of grace. any of us would love our children to grow up to be liking that. >> michael, always great to have you on with that perspective. thank you so much, nbc news, presidential historian, michael beschloss with us there. we now go to governor john kasich who joins us now on the pho phone. we're hearing from michael beschloss, one of the great senators of the last 200 years. >> well, it's kind of hard for me not to say i agree with that. i would -- i'd say something even bigger than that. one of the greatest men i've known. we can all talk about his role
as a united states senator but it was the core of the man, his strength, his integrity, his independence. his humor. look, we all loved him. i was saying in an interview a little bit earlier when we were all elected, he was in my class. and it wasn't just a couple days when we realized he's going to be the leader. we're going to elect him president of our class. and you know, john just had such a great career. and for me. >> sir, what stood out? what made you say he's going to be a leader? >> oh, well, look, at that point, he was charismatic. had it all going for him. but what really -- what i got from john mccain is his independence. you got to do what you think is right to serve the country. and just he just had such such conviction.
and yeah, i just have never known anybody like him. there will never be another person like john mccain. he -- he is just a unique guy. and yeah, evers a great senator but boy, you just -- you wanted to be around him. he could show you the way. i have to say in some respects, even though we were peers, even though we worked together, i really wanted john's approval for things that i did. i don't really search for approval from many people. and particularly people in politics. but with john are, i always wanted him to say, good be job, johnny. he used to call me johnny. proud of you. i remember whether he voted against that health carrie peel, you was able to get him on phone and i told him, i said, john, you've always been a hero of mine. and now more than ever.
you just stand so tall. what an awesome guy. we're going to miss him. it's been mentioned his influence around the world. i was in munich. i saw the way he spoke. i saw the way the world leaders sought him out. he reassured people around the globe about the strength of our country, about who we are in a turbulent time, evers there to tell them, we're going to be fine. they will really sought him out and really wanted him to reassure them. and i can't think of anybody on the national scene today that can take his place. >> i is there somebody that is close, governor? >> this is john mccain's hour. his family's hour. now is not the time to think about that. he is -- i'll tell you, i just am so proud that i knew him. he made a difference in my life. it just is somebody that was so
unique. i don't know what really shaped him. i don't know if it was his father, i don't know if it was the time. you didn't want to spend a lot of time talking about being in the hanoi hilton. he didn't want to talk too much about that. he just had a very quiet pride and a great humility and great sense of humor. a great determination. and great strength. >> you may have read all of the statements coming from former presidents. but if that's any indication i've person that wwas boabove p statements from the clones, statements from barack obama as well as every george w. bush all of these folks not necessarily in the history of his relationships with them were always good necessarily. >> well, look the thing you've got to realize, this is something that is missing in