Iowa’s political community is mourning this weekend’s death of Arizona Senator John McCain. McCain ran for president twice. His 2000 “Straight Talk Express” mostly by-passed the Iowa Caucuses, but in early 2007 McCain brought his second campaign for the White House to Iowa. He was in Iowa on October 26th of that year. It was the 40th anniversary of his capture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. During an interview with Radio Iowa that day, McCain credited Colonel Bud Day of Sioux City, one of the other POWs in the “Hanoi Hilton”, with literally saving his life.
McCain has written that it was during those years as a POW that he “fell in love with his country” and he voiced the same sentiments during that Radio Iowa interview. “You don’t appreciate America until you’re parted from her company,” McCain told Radio Iowa that day. “And then you really appreciate what a wonderful nation we live in.” Nearly four decades after he returned to American soil, McCain had landed the GOP’s presidential nomination. McCain finished fourth in the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, then he kept campaigning here in the spring, summer and fall of 2008.
McCain would say this in most speeches. At a McCain rally in September of 2008 in Cedar Rapids, a group of protesters began yelling and McCain’s supporters in the crowd started chanting to drown them out.
McCain returned to the Iowa campaign trail once more, in 2014, to campaign with Joni Ernst. Ernst, who won that U.S. Senate race, this weekend called McCain “a true American hero” and praised his “tenacious spirit.” Senator Ernst said McCain was a mentor who “personified service to our country.” Senator Chuck Grassley also praised McCain’s tenacity and courage, including his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Grassley and McCain have served in the senate for the past 32 years and Grassley noted McCain’s humor, saying McCain often greeted him by saying: “Nothing runs like a Deere” or joking about having a daily glass of ethanol. McCain was an outspoken critic of what he called “ethanol subsidies.” All four of the Iowans serving in the U.S. House have issued statements on McCain’s passing, describing McCain as a statesman, hero and patriot