John McCain
Portrait of John McCain
44th President of the United States
Assumed office
January 20, 2009
Vice President Tim Pawlenty
Preceded by George W. Bush
Personal details
Born John Sidney McCain III
August August 29, 1936 (1936-08-29) (age 81)
Panama Canal Zone Flag Coco Solo Naval Air Station,
Panama Canal Zone
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Political party Republicanlogo Republican
Spouse(s) Carol Shepp (m. 1965, div. 1980)
Cindy Lou Hensley (m. 1980)
Children Douglas (b. 1959, adopted 1966),
Andrew (b. 1962, adopted 1966),
Sidney (b. 1966),
Meghan(b. 1984),
John Sidney IV "Jack" (b. 1986),
James "Jimmy" (b. 1988),
Bridget (b. 1991, adopted 1993)
Residence The White House (official)
Phoenix, Arizona (private)
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Profession Naval aviator, Politician
Religion Baptist congregant
(Brought up Episcopalian)
Signature John McCain
Military service
Allegiance Flag of the United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Navy Seal United States Navy (Naval aviation)
Years of service 1958–1981
Rank US-O6 insignia Captain
Unit USS Intrepid (CV-11) VA-65
USS Enterprise (CVN-65) VA-65
USS Forrestal (CV-59) VA-46
USS Oriskany (CV-34) VA-163
Office of Legislative Affairs
Commands VA-174
Battles/wars Vietnam War
  • Operation Rolling Thunder
Awards Silver Star ribbon Silver Star
Legion of Merit ribbon Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star ribbon Bronze Star
Purple Heart Bar Purple Heart

Transition period


The inauguration of John McCain as the 44th President, and Sarah Palin as the 47th Vice President, took place on January 20, 2009. He officially assumed the presidency at 12:00 noon, EST, and completed the oath of office at 12:05 P.M., EST. He delivered his inaugural address immediately following his oath, whose theme was "In the Right Direction", or one different version of it "In a Different Direction", commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

In his inaugural address, he called upon all Americans of all faiths and political orientation to come together and help the United States solve its challenges. He also called on restoring responsibility — both in terms of accountability in Washington and the responsibility of ordinary people to get involved and finding a purpose greater than oneself.

Now is the time to come together, Republicans and Democrats - and Independents. We are all united in solving our nation's challenges. We are all united through those values we all share — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, loyalty, patriotism and service. They have been the quiet force of success throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world — duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task through service to our nation. My fellow American's today we stand in defence of our values and freedoms and to show that on this day we began to show our commitment to this great nation.'

First 100 days

In his first few days in office, McCain would regularly meet with both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., for talks about the economy and to cement bipartisan support for a new stimulus package named "Straight Forward". McCain also issued executive orders and presidential memoranda directing the U.S. military and civilian agencies to revising the strategy in Afghanistan, reduce government spending and reduced the secrecy given to presidential records.

On January 21, his first day in office, McCain requested a 120-day suspension of all trials for alleged terrorists held at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, so the new administration could "review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically". Another order established a task force to lead a review of detention policies, procedures and individual cases. McCain addressed the State Department that "the United States will not torture" and drafted an executive order to close Guantánamo as fast as possible, with a final deadline by 2013.

McCain also announced stricter guidelines regarding lobbyists in an effort to raise the ethical standards of the White House. The new policy banned aides from attempting to influence the administration for at least two years if they leave his staff. It also bans aides on staff from working on matters they have previously lobbied on, or to approach agencies that they targeted while on staff. Their ban also included a gift-giving ban.

McCain also revoked Executive Order 13233, which had limited access to the records of former United States Presidents. McCain issued instructions to all agencies and departments in his administration to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests.

On March 17, 2009, McCain repealed a Bush-era policy which had limited funding of embryonic stem cell research. McCain stated that he believed "it has great potential for curing some of the most terrible diseases that afflict mankind" and it was important that the United States "becomes one of the leading nations to pursue this research with humanity, conscience, responsibility".

Approval ratings and opinion

Presidential trips

Main article: List of presidential trips made by John McCain

Major legislation


  • January 29: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • February 4: Children’s Health Insurance Re-authorization Act
  • February 11: DTV Delay Act
  • March 24: Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act
  • April 21: Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
  • May 20: Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act
  • May 20: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009
  • May 22: Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009
  • June 22: Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
  • October 28: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010
  • October 30: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
  • November 6: Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009


  • January 27: Emergency Aid to American Survivors of Haiti Earthquake Act
  • March 4: Travel Promotion Act of 2009
  • March 9: Line-Item Veto and Recissions Act of 2009
  • March 10: Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2009
  • March 18: Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE Act)
  • March 30: Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
  • May 17: Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act
  • March 21: United States-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • March 21: United States-Republic of China Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • March 21: United States-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • May 26: Commercial Banking Stability and Security Act
  • July 1: Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act
  • July 2: Comprehensive Budget Control and Deficit Reduction Act of 2010
  • July 22: Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010
  • July 22: Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010
  • August 10: SPEECH Act of 2010
  • September 27: Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010
  • December 9: Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010
  • December 13: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
  • December 17: Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Re-authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
  • December 22: Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010


  • January 2: James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010
  • January 4: Food Safety and Modernization Act
  • January 7: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011
  • October 21: United States-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • October 21: United States-Panama Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • October 21: United States-South Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • November 21: VOW to Hire Heroes Act
  • December 31: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012


  • February 15: Questions to the President Act
  • March 21: United States-Ghana Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • March 21: United States-Kenya Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
  • April 5: Jump-start Our Business Start-ups Act
  • May 7: Bring Jobs Home Act

Major legislation vetoed

November 3, 2009: Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009


Cabinet appointees

Notable non-Cabinet positions

Judicial nominees

United States Supreme Court



Deficit reduction




On February 15, 2012, McCain signed the Questions to the President Act into law. The legislation, introduced by John Kerry (D-MA) and Scott P. Brown (R-MA), would establish a monthly constitutional convention in which the President would (if he wishes) spend around half an hour to an hour answering questions from members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The law would take effect from the beginning of the 113th Congress, starting on January 3, 2013.

Lobbying reform

Science and technology



While McCain expressed his support for the Constellation program, he was skeptical of the Ares V launch component for being "over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation." He established a committee to review the Constellation program in 2009, and announced in February 2010, that he would continue the program, but cancel the Ares V launch component and ordered NASA to find a cheaper alternative that would be finished by 2020. On September 14, 2011, NASA announced its design selection for the new launch system called the "Space Launch System", declaring that it would take the agency's astronauts farther into space than ever before. Its first flight is planned to occur in 2017.

Stem cell research


Gulf of Mexico oil spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion destroyed the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a major sustained oil leak. The well's operator, BP, initiated a containment and cleanup plan, and began drilling two relief wells intended to stop the flow. McCain deployed the National Guard to assist in the cleanup, and visited the Gulf on April 30 among visits by members of his cabinet, and again on May 4, May 17 and June 4. He began a federal investigation and formed a bipartisan commission to recommend new safety standards, after a review by Secretary of the Interior Jon Huntsman, Jr. and concurrent Congressional hearings.

As multiple efforts by BP failed, some in the media and public expressed confusion and criticism over various aspects of the incident, including McCain's refusal of a moratorium on new drilling permits and leases off the Western and Eastern Coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico.


Social policy

Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

On December 22, 2010, McCain signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, a bill that provides for repeal of the Don't ask, don't tell policy of 1993 that has prevented gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the United States Armed Forces.

McCain had urged the Congress to wait voting on repealing DADT until the Pentagon had published a comprehensive report on the issues associated with a repeal of DADT in late November 2010, stating that "if the military leadership are in favour of changing the policy, and the study reveals that a repeal won't affect combat effectiveness, we ought to consider seriously changing it."

Foreign policy

McCain Doctrine

Guantanamo Bay detention camp

Killing of Osama bin Laden

War in Iraq

War in Afghanistan

War in Yemen

War in Libya

War in Syria

Nuclear arms reduction and non-proliferation

Missile defense shield




North Korea


McCain has been a long-time critics of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, condemning his regime as "totalitarian" and "illegitimate".

In the aftermath of the 2010 Belarusian presidential election, marred by fraud and beating, arrests and imprisonment of presidential candidates, opposition leaders and activists by Lukashenkos KGB, McCain condemned on December 22 the elections as "illegitimate" and called on the Belarusian regime to immediately release all political prisoners. He also said that "the Lukashenko regime is the main impediment to the long-standing vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. It is in America’s national interest to support the people of Belarus in realizing their peaceful democratic aspirations."

McCain later endorsed the Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Political Repression in Belarus introduced by Dick Durbin (D-IL) Scott Brown (R-MA) co-sponsored by Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John Barrasso (R-WY), Mark Udall (D-CO), Mark Kirk (R-IL), og Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The resolution called for a tightening of the of the list of Belarusian officials who are subject to U.S. and European Union travel and financial sanctions, new elections in Belarus that meet international standards, tightening of EU sanctions against the Belarusian oil and petrochemical company Belneftekhim and its subsidiaries, direct material assistance to the Belarusian opposition, and for the International Ice Hockey Federation to suspend the 2014 Ice Hockey Championship which is to be held in Minsk until all Belarusian political prisoners are released.

An avid hockey fan (a supporter of the NHL team Phoenix Coyotes), McCain caused a minor controversy when he in April 2011 co-signed a letter by Senator Durbin addressed to IIHF President René Fasel in which they urged the International Ice Hockey Federation to suspend the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship and move it to another country unless all political prisoners were released. The letter was also co-signed by the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek and MEP and former NHL star Peter Šťastný.



Other issues


McCain with Clinton and Bush Haiti

McCain with former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the White House announcing the establishment of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, January 16, 2010.

On January 14, 2010, McCain would, at a joint press conference with Vice President Pawlenty, Secretary of State Lieberman and Secretary of Defense Gates in attendance, announce a massive humanitarian and military response to the earthquake in Haiti.

The United States would commit $100,000,000 to help Haiti recover from the earthquake, dispatch the Coast Guard cutters Forward and Mohawk to coordinate military aircraft over Haiti with satellite communications, two Coast Guard C-130s to fly up and down the coast looking for people needing help, while two Coast Guard helicopters arrived to provide rescue or other assistance. The Navy would dispatch the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and its helicopters would provide critical air transport for relief workers, while the hospital ship USNS Comfort and other ships including destroyers would move toward Haiti to provide relief. The Marines would dispatch a a Navy amphibious assault ship carrying a force of about 2200 Marines from Camp Lejeune to help provide security, support the embassy or support humanitarian work. The army would dispatch a more than 3500-strong Army brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg. On January 16, McCain met with former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the White House, where he announced the establishment of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the earthquake.


On May 14, 2009 McCain posthumously gave African American heavyweight boxing champion John Arthur 'Jack' Johnson a full presidential pardon, in a ceremony with Dorothy Cross, Johnson's great niece, Cross's daughter Constance Hines, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Johnson was a victim of what is widely regarded as a racially motivated conviction in 1913 for violating a law prohibiting taking women across state lines for 'immoral purposes'.

Awards and decorations'

See also

Offices held

Political offices
60px Preceded by:
George W. Bush

44th President of the United States
Since January 20, 2009