Cindy McCain Calls For Civility One Year After Her Husband's Death

By Mark Brodie
Published: Sunday, August 25, 2019 - 2:47pm
Updated: Monday, August 26, 2019 - 1:59pm

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Pallbearers carry Sen. John McCain
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
Pallbearers carry Sen. John McCain's casket into North Phoenix Baptist Church on Aug. 30, 2018.

MARK BRODIE: Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary since Arizona Sen. John McCain passed away. Following his death, there were memorial services in Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and at the U.S. Naval Academy, where McCain was buried. Now, his widow, Cindy McCain, is working to bring civility back to politics. She joins me to talk about that and other things. Mrs. McCain, let me ask you first off, what do you miss most right now about your husband?

CINDY MCCAIN: Oh, you know, there's so many things I miss about him that I think, particularly now, I miss his common sense, the way he conducted himself both within our family, of course, but in the Senate. Things like that. I think our country is in need of some strong common-sense attitude right now, and I think that — and I really miss that about him. I think our country misses it as well.

BRODIE: Do you get the sense that the political climate in this country would be different now if your husband were still alive?

MCCAIN: Well, I certainly think it would be to a degree, only because his voice of reason was always something that kind of tempered the Senate. He was really good at bringing the Senate back to to what the issue was and what the debate was about. And of course, working across party lines helped that. But I do, I think we'd be a little bit better than what we are right now because of him I really do.

BRODIE: Your mourning process was a particularly public one. I mean, it was going to be to some extent anyway — your husband was a very public figure. But given the fact that there were services here in Phoenix, in D.C., at the Naval Academy and spanned over several days — you were in the spotlight, and your family was in the spotlight for quite some time. I'm wondering how you think that affected your mourning and your grieving. Did it matter to you and your family and all that it was very much in the public eye and the cameras were on you for so long?

MCCAIN: No. You know, our entire family knew that that was going to be the case. And all of the kids, they're just the best. And this was the way they knew their father was going to be mourned, and I knew it too. I knew. I'll be very honest with you, though: I didn't know it would be that big. I mean I knew it was going to be big, but I really didn't grasp all of it until I saw the crowd both here in Phoenix but particularly in Washington D.C.

BRODIE: What was that like for you, when you saw a crowd that was considerably bigger than what you expected?

MCCAIN: Well, it really moved me to tears because it's such an honor for my husband's legacy and my husband. To see something like that was amazing, and you know, I've run into people in airports and kind of within my travels this past year who've said, "In my country," you know country ABCD, whatever it is, "it was a holiday so that everybody could watch the funeral.".

BRODIE: You're taking this occasion, the occasion of this anniversary, to launch a campaign to honor your husband. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

MCCAIN: Yes. I'm actually really, really proud of it. What I am doing and what our institute is doing is asking people to perform acts of civility. And once you perform this act of civility and we can talk about that, I want you to post it on social media with the hashtag #ActsOfCivility. Things like, maybe you have a co-worker that you disagree with or you don't get along with. Talking with that co-worker, maybe finding common ground at least and then being able to work in your ways, to be able to work together a little better. Or we disagree politically. I know families ... have been torn apart in the past political season. And maybe an act of civility is going back to your family and agreeing to disagree on the issues that divide us sometimes. I just think that civility is missing in our daily lives and certainly in our politics right now. And this is my attempt to help in that.

BRODIE: Are you of the opinion that by having individuals do sort of their own small thing like this, that it can really trickle up and maybe affect the larger political climate that we have now?

MCCAIN: I'm hoping so. Sure. I just received a note from the very famous chef that is going to perform an act of civility and post it. You know, things like that. I mean, this is not about me. This is about our country, and it's about bridging these divides and beginning to work together as we should for this country that is so great.

BRODIE: If our country is to return to civility — and I have heard you quoted elsewhere saying that you believe that it can — do get the sense that that is a short term proposition or something that's really going to take a while to get back to where we were?

MCCAIN: We're very divided right now, and it's going to take time. But at some point, people have to understand that we have got to stop this fighting and begin to work together. Everyone agrees it's time to stop for this divisive mess, and it's time to act civilly and remind everybody that it is OK to disagree and then to agree to disagree. Politics becoming this personal is just — it's damaging. It's damaging to our country. It's damaging to the individuals involved.

BRODIE: Cindy McCain widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain. Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of his passing away after a battle with glioblastoma.

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