Governor Henry McMaster remembers longtime Arizona Senator John McCain as a fellow Senate candidate who actually won his election.
“We were both running for U.S. Senate,” McMaster recalled of the time he met McCain in 1986. “He got elected and I didn’t.”
The governor is heading to Washington to attend a memorial service.
McMaster told reporters on Wednesday he met McCain after the Arizona native had completed his first term in the House and was running for Senate. McMaster had just completed his term as U.S. Attorney for South Carolina. They met in the White House with President Ronald Reagan.
“I was impressed with him and followed his career and he just got stronger and stronger as time went on,” McMaster recalled. “He’s certainly done his part and more for our country. He’s been a great inspiration for many Americans young and old. He was a great man.”
McMaster said he spent more time with McCain while serving as state Republican Party chairman during McCain’s unsuccessful 200 presidential run. McMaster’s current chief of staff Trey Walker worked on both of McCain’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008.
“(2000) is when we had the really big battle between John McCain and George Bush, which was really the decisive one because that’s when John had won the New Hampshire primary by about 20-something points,” he remembered. “It was astounding. So this was a must-win for George W. Bush and as you remember, it was a very historic and vigorous campaign. But John McCain, he’s indomitable.”
During the 2008 Primary campaign, McMaster recalled the fun they had on the tour bus with Senator Lindsey Graham.
“Those two would start telling stories and jokes and join in with other people,” he described. “I wonder if the people on the highway could hear the laughing going on in that bus. John McCain, I think, he was [sic] a great sense of humor and he and Lindsey just played off of each other like a couple of standup comedians. It was quite something to see.”
McMaster said he wished McCain had won the presidency. “I think he would have been a great, great president.”
“He is one of the greatest Americans that those of us alive today have ever known.”