John McCain, US senator and former presidential candidate, dies aged 81

US senator John McCain, a celebrated war hero, died Saturday after losing a battle to cancer. Picture: AFP/Getty
US senator John McCain, a celebrated war hero, died Saturday after losing a battle to cancer. Picture: AFP/Getty
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US senator John McCain has died at the age of 81.

The one-time presidential candidate and war hero died on Saturday following a battle with brain cancer, his office said.

His family had previously said he had ended medical treatment for the condition, revealing that “the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict”.

The six-term Republican senator, whose birthday is on August 29, has been away from the Capitol since last December.

His wife, Cindy, said in a tweet on Saturday that the McCain family was “overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from around the world” after Friday’s announcement.

Mr McCain was badly injured and spent more than five years as a prisoner of war after his plane was shot down on a bombing mission over North Vietnam in 1967.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and the Senate in 1986.

A conservative on most issues, he pushed for campaign finance reform and the effort to account for those missing in Vietnam.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, then won it in 2008. But he and running mate Sarah Palin lost to Barack Obama.

Following the announcement of his death on Saturday evening, US president Donald Trump said his “deepest sympathies” went to Mr McCain’s family.

He tweeted: “My deepest sympathies and respect go out to the family of senator John McCain. Our hearts and prayers are with you!”

Barack Obama, who beat Mr McCain in the 2008 presidential election, said the senator had shown what it meant “to put the greater good above our own”.

He said despite their differences, they shared a “fidelity to something higher - the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed”.

Mr Obama said in the statement that the two political opponents “saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world”.

He wrote that they “saw this country as a place where anything is possible - and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.”

Mr McCain’s wife Cindy said she was heartbroken by the death of an “incredible man”.

In a post on Twitter, she said: “My heart is broken. 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.”

Daughter Meghan McCain described her father as a “great fire who burned bright”.

She said: “We lived in his light and warmth for so very long. We know that his flame lives on, in each of us.

“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.”