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US Republican Senator John McCain dies aged 81 after battle with cancer

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John McCain, revered prisoner of war and both an independent voice in the US Republican Party and its 2008 presidential nominee, died on Saturday, nearly a year after he confirmed he had brain cancer. He was 81.

McCain, who represented Arizona in the Senate and House of Representatives for 35 years, had said the cancer was discovered in July 2017 and he has not been at the US Capitol this year. He also had surgery for an intestinal infection in April.

An upstart presidential bid in 2000 didn’t last long. Eight years later, he fought back from the brink of defeat to win the GOP nomination, only to be overpowered by Democrat Barack Obama. McCain chose a little-known Alaska governor as his running mate in that race, and turned Sarah Palin into a national political figure.

After losing to Obama in an electoral landslide, McCain returned to the Senate determined not to be defined by a failed presidential campaign in which his reputation as a maverick had faded. In the politics of the moment and in national political debate over the decades, McCain energetically advanced his ideas and punched back hard at critics — Trump not least among them.

Asked how he wanted to be remembered, McCain said simply: “That I made a major contribution to the defense of the nation.”