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"War is wretched beyond description": John McCain's greatest quotes

John McCain, with his irascible grin and fighter-pilot moxie, made a name for himself as an outspoken politician. He was at times bitingly funny, ruthlessly self-deprecating, and eloquently patriotic.

Some quotes from the former senator and U.S. presidential candidate:

WAR IS WRETCHED

"War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality." - May 6, 1999, speech to the American Red Cross.

STEADY STRAIN

"'Steady strain, buddy, steady strain,' we cautioned each other whenever we began to take a short view of our lives. It was best to take the long view. We would get home when we got home." — From the 1999 book "Faith of My Fathers: A Family Memoir" by Sen. John McCain.

HIGH ROAD TO A HIGH OFFICE

"I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land. I want the presidency in the best way, not the worst way." - Feb. 19, 2000, after losing the South Carolina Republican primary.

IN THE WORDS OF CHAIRMAN MAO

"In the words of Chairman Mao, 'It's darkest before it's totally black.'" - July 2007, in response to a reporter's question about his struggling bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

A GOOD FIGHT

"I don't mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I've had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way: In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test." - Sept 4, 2008, speech to the Republican National Convention accepting the party's presidential nomination.

A DECENT, FAMILY MAN

"No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about" - October 2008 at a town hall to a questioner who asked if his opponent for the White House, then-Sen. Barack Obama, was an "Arab" implying he was not American.

BOTTOM OF HIS CLASS

"Look, I am the luckiest person that you will ever have on your show, ever. And I am very aware of that, and I am very happy. For a guy who stood at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, we've come a hell of a long way." -- McCain said in an Aug. 2, 2017, interview on KFYI radio in Phoenix after his cancer diagnosis.

HE SERVED HIS COUNTRY

"He served his country, and not always right -- made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of errors -- but served his country, and I hope we can add, honorably" - Sept. 12, 2017, in an interview on how he hopes he's remembered.

A LAND MADE OF IDEALS

"We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don't. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn't deserve to." — Oct. 17, 2017, speech at National Constitutional Center.