WASHINGTON—Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James this evening issued the following statement on the death of Sen. John McCain:
"It’s not every day that we witness the passing of a true hero. John McCain certainly was one.
"The son and grandson of distinguished military men, Sen. McCain at first resembled nothing so much as a rambunctious, hotshot Navy pilot. The test came when he was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.
"In a prison camp he endured brutal physical and mental torture that pushed the limits of his courage and will. McCain’s character was on full display: Offered early release because he was a key admiral’s son, he refused, insisting that every man held captive before him be freed as well.
"It would be more than five years before John McCain regained his freedom. Though torture left him permanently physically impaired, his commitment to our great country was stronger than ever. Eventually, that commitment led him to serve his nation honorably in other capacities: that of congressman, U.S. senator, and presidential nominee in 2008.
"Sticking to his principles, disagreeing with his own party, John enjoyed his rep as a straight-talking 'maverick.' We at The Heritage Foundation certainly didn’t see eye to eye with him on some issues. But on many more, we did.
"His stands against earmarks and runaway spending, and for individual liberty, won him National Journal’s nod as the most conservative member of the Senate. And even as he waged what he knew would be a losing battle against cancer, he fought with equal determination to rebuild our military to assure our nation’s future security.
"John McCain was a fighter and a maverick to the very end. Throughout his long career of service, he stood as an exemplar of courage, character and iron will. For Heritage he was, at times, a worthy opponent—at others, a shoulder-to-shoulder ally in our shared fight for conservative ideas. We will miss him greatly."