167+ Best John McCain Quotes: Exclusive Selection

John Sidney McCain III was an American politician and military officer, who served as a United States senator from Arizona from January 1987 until his death. There are a lot of insightful life lessons from John McCain’s wise quotes on courage, happiness, character, service, patriotism, life and love.

If you’re searching for life quotes and sayings that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of Maxine Waters quotes, powerful Barack Obama quotes, and top Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes.

Most Famous John McCain Quotes

We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears. – John McCain

Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone. – John McCain

I admire Obama, and I like him. I think he has a great deal of talent. He should be applauded for his eloquence and for his ability to motivate millions. – John McCain

I think where [Donald Trump] loses most hawkish republicans is when he talking about how much he likes [Vladimir] Putin. That should make any person who believe in the American exceptionalism, incredibly uncomfortable. – John McCain

An act of heroism, of extraordinary courage, the grandeur of it, won’t easily inspire us to act in imitation, but it can inspire us to emulate its author. For that, we should learn what we can of the whole experience of the subject, the hero’s life, as it was before and after, and believe that trying to emulate the character it reveals is one tried way to prepare for the tests that might await us and gain hope that our courage will not be wanting in the moment. – John McCain

Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace and it’s got to be fixed. – John McCain

I’m not President Bush – John McCain

I don’t think Roger Ailes is ham-fisted. – John McCain

I think that Fox News is a bit schizophrenic. – John McCain

You have to listen to people that have chosen the nominee of our Republican Party. I think it would be foolish to ignore them. – John McCain

I think that it’s important that we understand the importance of the Hispanic vote in America. – John McCain

I don’t think anybody is – no one could compare to Ronald Reagan, because he was the right man at the right time. – John McCain

Sometimes it’s important to watch what the president does rather than what he says. – John McCain

Government should take care of those in America who can’t care for themselves. That’s a role of government. – John McCain

Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed. – John McCain

We need a free press. We must have it. It’s vital. – John McCain

But we should be mindful as we argue about our differences that so much more unites than divides us. We should also note that our differences, when compared with those in many, if not most, other countries, are smaller than we sometimes imagine them to be. – John McCain

Country First – John McCain

I know where a lot of them [the elite or elitists] live. Where’s that? Well, in our nation’s capital and New York City. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived there. – John McCain

I admire the Islam. There’s a lot of good principles in it. – John McCain

I don’t doubt the sincerity of my Democratic friends. And they should not doubt ours. – John McCain

The U.S. never lost a battle against North Vietnam, but it lost the war. – John McCain

Russia’s leaders, rich with oil wealth and corrupt with power, have rejected democratic ideals and the obligations of a responsible power. – John McCain

Frankly, I would never accept an award from Vladimir Putin because then you kind of give some credence and credibility to this butcher, this KGB agent, which is what he is. – John McCain

I consider myself a Christian. I attend church. My faith has sustained me in very difficult times. – John McCain

During one period while I was in solitary, I memorized the names of all 335 of the men who were then prisoners of war in North Vietnam. I can still remember them. – John McCain

The problem… is that most members of Congress don’t pay attention to what’s going on. – John McCain

My greatest fear is the Iranians acquire a nuclear weapon and give it to a terrorist organization. And there is a real threat of them doing that. – John McCain

Thank God for our form of government. The media won’t let there be any cover-up. – John McCain

We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves, from ourselves. – John McCain

I’m not against a border wall, OK, but go to China, and you’ll see a border wall there. We need technology, we need drones, we need surveillance capabilities, and we need rapid-reaction capabilities. – John McCain

War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality. – John McCain

I have watched men suffer the anguish of imprisonment, defy appalling human cruelty… break for a moment, then recover inhuman strength to defy their enemies once more. – John McCain

I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also. – John McCain

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else’s. – John McCain

For much of my life, the Navy was the only world I knew. It is still the world I know best and love most. – John McCain

Every day, people serve their neighbors and our nation in many different ways, from helping a child learn and easing the loneliness of those without a family to defending our freedom overseas. It is in this spirit of dedication to others and to our country that I believe service should be broadly and deeply encouraged. – John McCain

If you want to preserve – I’m very serious now – if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started. – John McCain

The president has promised greater border security. We can agree to that. A literal wall might not be the most effective means to that end, but we can provide the resources necessary to secure the border with smart and affordable measures. – John McCain

[One of the biggest differences between him and his rivals for the Republican nomination was] every one of them wants to torture people. It’s amazing. – John McCain

We all know spending levels for defense and other urgent priorities have been woefully inadequate for years. But we haven’t found the will to work together to adjust them. – John McCain

Politics abhors a vacuum, and Asian countries will gravitate towards China if U.S. influence is perceived as declining. – John McCain

For America, our interests are our values, and our values are our interests. – John McCain

Whenever America sends its citizens into harm’s way, it must do so with eyes wide open. – John McCain

I believe we should always put our country first. – John McCain

Americans and Europeans share a common goal – to build an enduring peace based on freedom. – John McCain

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am confronted every day with the security concerns and threats to our own nation’s safety, as well as threats to the rest of the world. – John McCain

Putin’s Russia is our adversary and moral opposite. It is committed to the destruction of the post-war, rule-based world order built on American leadership and the primacy of our political and economic values. – John McCain

For Mr. Putin, vacillation invites aggression. His world is a brutish, cynical place, where power is worshiped, weakness is despised, and all rivalries are zero-sum. – John McCain

The French repulsed wave after wave of frontal attacks at Dien Bien Phu. The 1968 Tet offensive against the U.S. was a military disaster that effectively destroyed the Viet Cong. But Giap persisted and prevailed. – John McCain

I’m sick and tired of only being asked about everything that Donald Trump says or does. – John McCain

Public life has many more privileges than hardships. – John McCain

When you’re not winning, you’re losing. – John McCain

When Barack Obama won in 2008, in 2009 I voted for his team because I think that – that the American people wanted him to have his team. But don’t think I wasn’t worried about it. Really worried. – John McCain

I thought I’d be president of the United States. – John McCain

I tell the same stories all the time because I like them! – John McCain

I believe in prayer. I pray every night. – John McCain

On the issue of the gay marriage, I believe if people want to have private ceremonies, that’s fine. I do not believe that gay marriages should be legal. – John McCain

Our society demands that women be treated equally and that we not discriminate against them. – John McCain

I understand the sensitivity of issues regarding women in the military. – John McCain

We cannot have a separate group of people that are military and a separate civilian society. Otherwise, it’s dangerous to democracy. – John McCain

Personally, I liked Admiral Kelso very much. I believe that he served his country with distinction. – John McCain

Americans want jobs. They want affordable health insurance. They want an education. – John McCain

Sen. Obama comes from the old Chicago machine politics and has never taken on the special interests in his party on a major issue ever. – John McCain

I’ve tried to say that I admire and respect Sen. Obama. He has accomplished great things, and he has motivated people, and so – and he loves his country, just as I do. – John McCain

I’m proud of my record of reform, taking on my own party. – John McCain

The first role of government is to help people who are in crisis or need. That’s why we have government. – John McCain

My record shows that I have put my country first, and I follow the philosophy and traditions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. – John McCain

Most great leaders in history that I’ve studied always need to get as wide a range of opinions as possible so that they can have sufficient information to make the right decisions. – John McCain

I guess my view is I believe less governance is best governance and that government should not do what the free enterprise and private enterprise and indidividual entrepreneurship and the states can do. – John McCain

I’ve always given presidents the benefit of the doubt on their nominees. – John McCain

I get along with the Democrats, but please – I’m not their hero. – John McCain

Some men are much more self-sufficient than others. – John McCain

I used to write books and plays in my mind, but I doubt that any of them would have been above the level of the cheapest dime novel. – John McCain

I think ISIS can do terrible things. – John McCain

Putin wants to restore the Russian empire. That’s his ambition; he’s stated it many times. – John McCain

I think that Rand Paul represents a segment of the GOP, just like his father. And I think he is trying to expand that, intelligently, to make it larger. – John McCain

No one can plausibly argue that ridding the world of Saddam Hussein will not significantly improve the stability of the region and the security of American interests and values. – John McCain

I am frustrated and outraged by the slow nature of change at the VA. – John McCain

In the real world, as lived and experienced by real people, the demand for human rights and dignity, the longing for liberty and justice and opportunity, the hatred of oppression and corruption and cruelty is reality. – John McCain

I have certainly seen my share of the world as it really is and not how I wish it would be. – John McCain

It is foolish to view realism and idealism as incompatible or to consider our power and wealth as encumbered by the demands of justice, morality, and conscience. – John McCain

We are a country with a conscience. – John McCain

I know in war good people can feel obliged for good reasons to do things they would normally object to and recoil from. – John McCain

I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. – John McCain

The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow. It sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad. It is sometimes used by our enemies in attempts to hurt us. But the American people are entitled to it, nonetheless. – John McCain

Barbara Boxer is the most bitterly partisan, most anti-defense senator in the United States Senate today. I know that because I’ve had the unpleasant experience of having to serve with her. – John McCain

You cannot tell the enemy you’re going to leave and expect the enemy to not – and expect to succeed. I mean, that’s just a fundamental of warfare. – John McCain

We know that Medicare’s going broke in seven years, but we need to start over. That’s what the American people want us to do. – John McCain

The first pork-barrel bill that crosses my desk, I’m going to veto it and make the authors of those pork-barrel items famous all over America. – John McCain

On the subject of Osama bin Laden… we will track him down. We will capture him. We will bring him to justice, and I will follow him to the gates of hell. – John McCain

We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos; there will be genocide; and they will follow us home. – John McCain

I am fully prepared to be commander in chief… I don’t need on-the-job training. – John McCain

But please know, whether you believe campaign contributions are speech or property, that I learned to love very dearly the right of free expression when I lived without that freedom for a while a long time ago. – John McCain

Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. – John McCain

I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. – John McCain

You raise taxes during an economic crisis time, as we did in – back in the time of Herbert Hoover, you send the country into a depression. – John McCain

The core political values of our free society are so deeply embedded in our collective consciousness that only a few malcontents, lunatics generally, ever dare to threaten them. – John McCain

On Putin’s order, Russian security services try to destabilize NATO allies the U.S. has sworn to defend. – John McCain

Countries, not just their armies, win wars. – John McCain

I think it’s important that the President of the United States consult as widely as possible with those who have different views so that he can – he or she – can make the most informed decisions. – John McCain

I consider myself a realist. – John McCain

I know the veterans. I know them well. And I know that they know that I’ll take care of them. And I’ve been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans. – John McCain

Men and women serving in the military deserve better than what they’re giving – what we’re giving them. They don’t know what they’re going to be doing tomorrow. – John McCain

The only way you approach politics and seek elective office is to move forward. For me to look back in anger or with any rancor would be a mistake. – John McCain

Our country doesn’t depend on the heroism of every citizen. But all of us should be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf. – John McCain

We have many advantages in the fight against global warming, but time is not one of them. Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge. – John McCain

At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt. – John McCain

I actually think if the American people understood what was going on instead of just being told tidbits by this administration, they would actually be a lot more supportive of the boots on the ground. – John McCain

I think that when you look at the great politicians, the two greatest in my view were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, they certainly had character traits. You also know Abraham Lincoln overcame severe depression problems that he had when he was younger, which gave him the strength and the character later on. – John McCain

I think conventional wisdom is that time is not on our side. But there are a number of members of Congress who have primaries and when those primaries are done, they may be more inclined to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. – John McCain

Hillary [Clinton] saying we’re never going to put boots on the ground in Iraq, we never going to put boots on the ground in Syria petrified me, simply because, why – what if this continues despite out of control. – John McCain

I have no rancor. I look forward, not backwards. – John McCain

Remember the words of Chairman Mao: ‘It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.’. – John McCain

Subjecting prisoners to abuse leads to bad intelligence, because under torture a detainee will tell his interrogator anything to make the pain stop. Second, mistreatment of our prisoners endangers U.S. troops who might be captured by the enemy – if not in this war, then in the next. And third, prisoner abuses exact on us a terrible toll in the war of ideas, because inevitably these abuses become public. – John McCain

Russia has now become a nation fueled by petro-dollars that is basically a KGB apparatchik-run government. – John McCain

A man I admire and respect – Congressman John Lewis, an American hero, made allegations that Sarah Palin and I were somehow associated with the worst chapter in American history, segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, George Wallace. That, to me, was so hurtful. – John McCain

Torture doesn’t work. – John McCain

We can’t go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here – who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows, as well… What’s changed, honestly, is that there is a new appreciation on both sides of the aisle, maybe more importantly on the Republican side, that we need to enact a comprehensive immigration reform bill. – John McCain

I am not haunted by memories of Vietnam. But I must admit I never thought we would again witness in my lifetime the specter of politicians picking targets and ruling out offensive measures in the absurd hope that the enemy would respond to our restraint by yielding to our demands. – John McCain

I will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell. – John McCain

I wrestled and played football in high school and in my last year, I started as a wrestler and actually had a fairly good record. But I hated to lose. I always gave it everything I had which, unfortunately, was not as much as I’d hoped for. But keep in mind, I feel like I got the most out of my ability. One moment that was special above all the rest was winning my last bout at the Naval Academy to finish the entire summer undefeated. That was thrilling, but what’s more, it helped me in prison because the first time I got knocked around by the Vietnamese, it did not come as a total shock. – John McCain

I put the Vietnam War behind me a long time ago, and what I wanted to (do) among other things was help veterans also be able to come all the way home as some of our veterans have not been able to do. But I harbor no anger nor rancor. I’m a better man for my experience, and I’m grateful for having the opportunity of serving. – John McCain

I believe that Congress will and must act before then to renew its objections to multiple and discriminatory taxes on the Internet, as well as to taxes that inhibit Internet access. – John McCain

I disagree with what the majority of the American people want. – John McCain

We know for a fact the Russians tried to change the outcome of our election, attacking the very fundamental of democracy. We know they did that. We need to know how, we need to know why, and most of all we need to know what to do to prevent this kind of activity, which they continue to carry on in free nations around the world. – John McCain

Suppose that climate change is not real and all we do is adopt green technologies, which our economy and our technology is perfectly capable of. Then all we’ve done is given our kids a cleaner world. – John McCain

We should be I hope finally realizing what Vladimir Putin is. He’s an old colonel, KGB, apparatchik, and he dreams of the restoration of the Russian empire. – John McCain

America is the greatest force for good in the history of the world. – John McCain

The way you have bipartisan negotiations, you sit down across the table, as we did with Ted Kennedy, as I’ve done with many other members, and you say, ‘OK, here’s what I want, here’s what you want. We’ll adhere to your principles, but we’ll make concessions.’ – John McCain

There’s one big difference between me and the others – I won’t take every last dime of the surplus and spend it on tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy. I’ll use the bulk of the surplus to secure Social Security far into the future to keep our promise to the greatest generation. – John McCain

To equate Vladimir Putin and the United States of America, as Donald Trump was asked, you know, I guess it was Bill O’Reilly who said,But Putin is a killer.And he basically said,So are we.That moral equivalency is a contradiction of everything the United States has ever stood for in the 20th and 21st century. – John McCain

We should exhibit no self doubt to our friends, … Credibility is a strategic asset. – John McCain

Every time there’s been an out-of-bounds remark made by a Republican, no matter where they are, I have repudiated them. – John McCain

Tolerance of dissent is the hallmark of a mature party, and it is well past time for the Republican Party to grow up. – John McCain

Conservatives came to office to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private initiative. But lately we have increased government in order to stay in office. And, soon, if we don’t remember why we were elected we will have lost our office along with our principles, and leave a mountain of debt that our children’s grandchildren will suffer from long after we have departed this earth. Because, my friends, hypocrisy is the most obvious of sins, and the people will punish it. – John McCain

The Russians are succeeding in continuing their dismemberment of Ukraine, they’re succeeding in exerting enormous influence in the Middle East, which they never had before. They are succeeding – they have succeeded in interfering with our election, and we know that they continue that in the French elections and other elections. And so far they have paid a little or no penalty for all of this misbehavior. – John McCain

Presidential ambition is a disease that can only be cured by embalming fluid. – John McCain

I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the best candidate able to lead the country and defend our political values. – John McCain

People want the truth, even if they disagree. – John McCain

You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran? Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran. – John McCain

I don’t use coarse language very often. I have a larger vocabulary than that. – John McCain

My hero is a guy named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt used to say, walk softly, talk softly but carry a big stick. – John McCain

And by the way, I would not only reappoint Greenspan; if Greenspan would happen to die, God forbid, I would do like they did in the movie ‘Weekend at Bernie’s.’ I would prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him. – John McCain

I voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that elections have consequences when presidents are nominated. – John McCain

What if there’s another terrorist attack? I cringe at the ideas of our enemies watching this, knowing much like the president we have now. You can do anything you want; you can jerk us around, you can harass our naval ships the way Iran is doing right now, and we’re not going to do anything. We’re not going to react. – John McCain

Courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion and humility – John McCain

The political tactics of division and slander are not our values. They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country. – John McCain

We are Americans first, Americans last, and Americans always. – John McCain

Keep moving if you love life and keep your troubles well behind you. – John McCain

Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you in return. – John McCain

In prison, I fell in love with my country. I had loved her before then, but like most young people, my affection was little more than a simple appreciation for the comforts and privileges most Americans enjoyed and took for granted. It wasn’t until I had lost America for a time that I realized how much I loved her. – John McCain

I’ve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been her servant first, last and always. And I’ve never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn’t thank God for the privilege. – John McCain

Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice. – John McCain

War is awful. Nothing, not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. War is wretched beyond description and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality. Whatever is won in war, it is loss the veteran remembers. – John McCain

Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. – John McCain

On my honor, I swear to you, that from my first day in office to the last breath I draw, I will do everything in my power to make you proud of your government. – John McCain

Washington is a Hollywood for ugly people. Hollywood is a Washington for the simpleminded. – John McCain

I looked into Mr. Putin’s eyes, and I saw three letters, aK,aG,and aB. – John McCain

We make the future better than the past. We don’t hide from history. We make history. – John McCain

Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno. – John McCain

Our nation’s continued prosperity hinges on our ability to solve environmental problems and sustain the natural resources on which we all depend. – John McCain

There’s two ways of working in Washington, … One is to go along and get along. The other is to stand up for what you believe in. – John McCain

I say to our enemies: We are coming. God may have mercy on you, but we won’t – John McCain

I campaigned in 2012 all over this country for months: ‘Repeal and replace Obamacare.’ That was not the mandate of the voters. If they wanted to repeal Obamacare, the 2012 election would have been probably significantly different. – John McCain

Efforts to bring about democracy have hit a wall and are going backwards. – John McCain

Many good people mistake their reputation for their character. It is a mistake I have made many, many times. – John McCain