April 16th, 2008
10:28 AM ET

Up Close: John McCain

Becoming John McCain: 360's Erica Hill uncovers the John McCain you don't know.
Becoming John McCain: 360's Erica Hill uncovers the John McCain you don't know.

Erica Hill
AC360 Correspondent

It’s tough to find anyone in the US who doesn’t know about Senator John McCain’s time as a POW in Vietnam. What you probably don’t know, however, is that those five and a half years of hell - endless years of torture, beatings, nearly starving, all the while never knowing if he would see his children and his family again - were not the darkest days of his life. To sink that low, John McCain would have to go to Washington.

His life story is fascinating, as his campaign wants you to remember. But John McCain’s recent biography tour, while interesting and inspiring, didn’t reveal many new facts about the senior senator from Arizona. Tonight, 360 will. Not just the events that brought McCain lower than he’d ever been, but also the dark moments before and after that have shaped the presumptive Republican nominee… and the battle that lies ahead.

You’ll hear from his roommate at the Naval Academy, from a fellow POW turned lifelong friend, from the man who served as best man at Sen McCain’s wedding to his second wife, Cindy… a man you may know best as Pres. Clinton’s Defense Secretary. The stories about John McCain you didn’t know, from the people who know him best. Tonight, 360 takes you up close.

Program Note: Watch 360 tonight at 10pm ET for an in-depth look at Presidential candidate John McCain.

Filed under: Raw Politics
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Brian Heckenberger

    John McCain is no doubt an honorable man. However, in today's world, with many complex and difficult issues to address in managing our country, John McCain is quite simply too old to do the the job optimally. Being a good president requires the stamina, memory, and sharp-mind to wrestle with issues on a moment's notice at any time of the day. It requires one to be on the go for 16-hour days on average. It requires the verbal and problem-solving cognitive skills which unfortunately diminishes with age. I'm 50-years old and have clearly witnessed such deterioration with age as a resident on this planet. Give me a break. This guy is over the hump for being an optimal president. Take a hard look at his news flashes and presentations. Sure, our elderly folks have much wisdom and knowledge to contribute no doubt, but they simply and realistically have diminished physical capability and stamina to be the paramount public servant.

    April 20, 2008 at 5:56 am |
  2. Sandra

    Anderson and Erica,

    We were really looking forward to your piece on John McCain last night, but we were very disappointed.

    There was clearly a negative bias, as you glossed over his biography, leaving out much of the positive and dwelling on the negative. Most disappointing was the attempt to create an impression of wrong doing in the way that the Keating hearings were decribed.

    Agree with him or not, there are very few people who really know McCain who do not respect him and consider him to be an ethical, straight-shooter. The kind of bias reflected in this piece is unfortunate, as AC360 is usually one of the most informative and unbiased shows on television. You owe Senator McCain and your viewers an honest portrayal of this hero's life.

    April 17, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  3. Penny

    Hi AC 360,
    America would become a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY under John McCain's leadership becoming a TITANIC. He needs to explore his mental health. The other world leaders would not look at him in the manner of being so powerful It like pouring salt in old wound. He has no personality / That's why he said 100 years, because he knows he would not have the patience for a WAR after being A POW. Futhermore, this dude is OLD. To me he needs a reality check.

    April 17, 2008 at 9:45 am |
  4. Brandi down the bayou.


    Are you referring to actions during his imprisonment or after he was released? I have not heard of the "black criminal". Perhaps your acronyms being spelled out might make your message clearer.

    My understanding of your blog is that it sounds like he signed some paper during his time as a POW in order to receive medical treatment. If this is correct, I would consider that more of a violation of the treatment of POWs than some impropriety on the part of the POWs.

    Am I correct in understanding your blog?

    April 17, 2008 at 12:44 am |
  5. Kevin A. Bradley

    I read all 18 blogs posted, not one mentioned that then Cmdr. McCain did after he was captured. I hope that the outline goes into detail about the "black criminal". I don't care what he did he signed a agreement with the NVA for treatment. This is not Valor above and beyond the call of duty. This is a violation of UMCJ

    April 16, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  6. Len

    Somebody needs to ask McCain if he knows the difference between Sunni Al Qaeda and Shia Iran, which he accusded of training the former. This man is either too ignorant or too dishonest to be commander in chief.

    April 16, 2008 at 10:34 pm |
  7. Annie Kate

    Hi Erica,

    I'm looking forward to your piece on John McCain. I think that of all the candidates he and his campaign have been the classiest – he has been respectful towards the other candidates and has stuck to the issues for the most part, not going negative on his competition but explaining why he and his policies will be the best for America. By not being divisive on the campaign trail he has pretty much convinced me by his actions that he is the one candidate that can bring us together rather than driving another wedge between us. I can see why he is called the moral backbone of the GOP.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 16, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  8. Brandi down the bayou.

    Hey Tammy in Berwick! I'm only about 20 minutes from u! lol

    Hi Erica! I am definitely looking forward to this piece, especially since he seems to be my #1 choice too.

    April 16, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
  9. McGee, The OC

    Erica, hat's off to Sen. McCain.

    I, myself, only served 15-months in S. Viet Nam in 1968-'69 with the 101st Airborne Div. – – – and I think I spent a lot of time staring out into the darkness with my mind wandering! His story so dwarfs my own and nearly all others who served there.

    Turning down an offer to be set free and go home . . . talk about not wanting to be known as one of America's priviledged and elite! His tenacious resilience is still evident even today as he chugs steadily along the excruciatingly tough and long campaign trail.

    Again, hat's off to you John McCain . . . and also to AC360 for this doing this entire series of profiles. Thanks.

    April 16, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  10. Carol B., Virginia

    It doesn't seem like he's as well as he says he is. Washington is his biggest problem? I don't think so. After all, he's been through 5 years of extreme torture, not knowing if he could be executed on a whim. He has been deprived of caring human interactions, nutrition, tortured mentally and physically. Did he have PTSD, cognitive and behavioral counseling after going through such an ordeal? If he thinks he's above that sort of thing than I think he really hasn't dealt with what's happened to him and he will be a dangerous choice for president. It will be reinacted via psychodrama in his future decisions for our country. Can we really afford that?

    April 16, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  11. Winghunter

    The Bottom Line:

    Choosing the lesser of three evils is STILL choosing the lesser of evils.

    We have the internet which offers NO excuse for being incapable of our own governance which we have demonstrated so transparently that I'ld almost prefer to be looking from the outside laughing at every single one of us.

    April 16, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  12. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica, I look forward to Mr. McCain’s profile tonight. Although I’m a Democrat, I would love to find out more about him. I’ve listened to his speeches, heard his stance on the issues, and read about his life story, but it’s always good to find out more information about our candidates. Apart from his opinion on the war, I actually agree with his position on most of the issues our country is facing right now. Thanks and I look forward to the show tonight.

    Edmonds, Washington

    April 16, 2008 at 5:35 pm |
  13. Ruby Coria, LA., CA.

    Erica, can't wait to see you and the peice on John. Since Obama is going to take the democrate party and the war is not going to end regardless.. I'm thinking of voting for John the man has paid his dues!, but if I do there goes my pro~choice vote, at least the boarder will be shut down!,that mean my family can't cross over!..oh well. see u tonight.

    April 16, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  14. Susan


    Looking forward to your profile on Senator John McCain. He indeed has an interesting past.

    1) Being born in the Panama Canal Zone area on a military base where his father was an admiral.
    2) A prisoner of war in which he was released( due to who his father was), but did not want to leave his buddies behind
    3) His years at the Naval Acadamy in Annapolis,MD. He graduated fourth from the bottom. He was a bit of a prankster and liked to party.
    4) The Savings and Loan scandel in AZ.
    5) His years in Washington.

    He is really a good man. A very private man. The kind of guy that you would like to sit down and have a beer with. I saw him speak at a book
    club meeting in Philadelphia,PA. His self depricating humor is one of his endearing qualities. I wish that his champaign would allow the AC 360 crew to ride along. I bet that they would have fun and be pleasantly surprised. Even Anderson Cooper may be impressed.


    April 16, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Paris

    Well my comments don't get posted but I am not about to give-up.
    Erica I am hoping that you will have a fair segment on this.
    But if the above article is any indication I doubt that it would be fair.
    Example one:
    “But John McCain’s recent biography tour, while interesting and inspiring, didn’t reveal many new facts about the senior senator from Arizona. Tonight, 360 will.”
    Example two:
    “To sink that low, John McCain would have to go to Washington.”
    The words are picked to create doubt.
    This is bias.

    April 16, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  16. Susan

    I will be watching the segment on McCain tonight as well. I can't say I agree with everything he says he will do in offce, but of the running Candidates, he is the best choice for this country. Barrack has a chip on his shoulder and is to arrogant to be president and Hilliary carries with her to much baggage from the Clinton years. It is always nice to personalize the candidates and find they too are human!

    April 16, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  17. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    I'm looking forward to the piece tonight. John McCain is my candidate, and I think the world deserves to know the truth about him and the fact that he is the only logical choice to move America forward. It seems like 360 spends most of its time on Obama and Clinton drama (of course, they are the prototypes for political histrionics this go round). I'm just hoping this piece is unbiased and as favorable to McCain as the Obama dog and pony show was last night (and every night for that matter on 360).

    April 16, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  18. Renee

    Hi Erica and Bloggers:

    Just got my NY Magazine down south today. There is an interesting cover story on McCain this week. It will probably be on-line in a day or so. Just wondering Erica did McCain where those sunglasses when you interviewed him?

    April 16, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  19. xtina

    Thanks in advance for the profile of Sen. McCain. His economic speech Monday was great. I'll paraphrase one of the best parts

    - I don't seek the Presidency on the presumption that Im blessed with personal greatness that can save my country. I seek it because I can't forget my country saved me, and to champion the ideas I believe will make us safer, stronger -

    that's such a contrast to a candidate who says , just vote for me and I CAN save America. I think JM is saying each of us has it in us to do the saving, he'll just do his bit to get back to the founding principles

    April 16, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  20. Michelle

    John McCain reminds me so much of my father. They are the same age and even look alike. My dad was also an army brat whose dad ran a military hospital and whose brother was career Army. Dad's family also strongly incouraged him to join the Army. Instead he rebelled and joined the Marines. Dad also liked to party and do crazy stunts as a young man. He was never a POW, however. After he had a small family to support, he got his life together and became a successful teacher. Now, I love my dad but I would not elect him President of the United States.

    One of the things that concerns me about McCain is that while he is a nice, fun, popular and tough guy it doesn't seem like he has done much as a leader. He runs on the platform that he is a war hero, and I believe he is a war hero, but his heroism had more to do with surviving than leading people. If the president only had to be a toughminded, gritty, traditional, stubborn and painfully honest guy then McCain is our man. But...I suspect we need a diplomatic, articulate and broadminded President in the White House this term...a president who has the capability of thinking outside the box.

    April 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  21. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I look forward to finally hearing the John McCain piece. I'm sure the Obama and Clinton supporters won't care about it, but I really do want to hear ALL the candidates. Facts, not political whirlwinds, that's all I can ask for. Thanks.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    April 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  22. Michelle

    Looking forward to this segment tonight. The Obama profile
    last night was very informative. Looking forward to Hillary's
    as well. Thank you 360 for these candidate profiles.

    April 16, 2008 at 12:25 pm |
  23. Sarah

    I am really looking forward to tonight's segment featuring McCain. In my opinion, he is the ONLY choice for a Responsible American President.

    Both Obama and Hillary Clinton's foreign policy scares me. If either one of them is elected President, I won't feel safe. I am not saying I agree with all of McCain's policies, but on foreign policy he is correct.

    April 16, 2008 at 11:49 am |
  24. Megan O. Toronto, ON, Canada

    Erica I am so looking forward to your report on John McCain tonight. Anderson' Barack Obama piece was fantastic and Hillary's will probably be great as well

    April 16, 2008 at 11:29 am |