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Joe McCain

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Subject: John McCain, Early life and military career of John McCain, National League of Families, The Nightingale's Song, Faith of My Fathers
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Joe McCain

Joe McCain
Born Joseph Pinckney McCain II
(1942-04-26) April 26, 1942 [1]
New London, Connecticut[1]
Nationality American
Occupation stage actor, newspaper reporter
Known for Brother of U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain
Political party Republican
Religion Episcopalian[2]
Parent(s) John S. McCain, Jr. (father)
Roberta McCain (mother)
John McCain (brother)

Joseph Pinckney "Joe" McCain II (born April 26, 1942) is a stage actor, newspaper reporter, and brother of U.S. Senator and two-time presidential candidate John McCain.

Early life and education

Joseph Pickney McCain II was born to John S. McCain, Jr. and Roberta McCain[3] on April 26, 1942[1] in the naval base hospital in New London, Connecticut.[1] His father's perpetual travelling for Navy assignments meant that Joe had attended 17 different schools by the time he completed 9th grade.[4] He entered the United States Naval Academy, but left in 1961 during his first year.[5] Although he had tried to emulate his older brother, father (against his advice), grandfather and forebears, he later said "I just didn't like all the formations and inspections and things like that."[4] He then attended the College of William & Mary, where he later said he "discovered fraternities and beer and girls."[4]

Vietnam era

Joe McCain was a member of the United States Navy and in 1965 to 1966 served as an enlisted man aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) during the Vietnam War.[1][4]

During that conflict and his brother's long time as a prisoner of war, the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, which included Joe, heightened awareness of the POWs' plight.[6] In 1970, Joe McCain sat in a bamboo cage in Los Angeles, eating simulated POW food to dramatize the plight of POWs.[7] In the same year, he and two other brothers of POWs travelled around the U.S. circulating petitions to be presented to North Vietnamese representatives, and sought the signatures of opponents of the Vietnam War as well as those supporting it.[8] He then helped bring 13 tons of mail to the North Vietnamese delegation at the Paris Peace Talks, demanding humane treatment for the POWs.[4]


Following Vietnam, McCain tried both journalism and medical school before moving to acting.[2] He worked at the San Diego Union and San Diego Evening Tribune,[1] but got in trouble at one for perpetrating a prank.[4] He subsequently became a dinner theatre actor.[9]

McCain married around 1998, but divorced in 2008, having no children.[4]

Political involvement

2000 presidential election

McCain was a volunteer manager for Republican Party needed to be reformed.[11]

Possible congressional run

In 2001, Republican Party activists in Northern Virginia tried to recruit McCain to run for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 8th congressional district against the incumbent Democrat Jim Moran.[9] They believed McCain's personal characteristics, combined with his brother's name and appeal to moderate voters, would allow an effective challenge.[9] McCain declined to run, however, due to the growing Democratic tilt of the district, saying, "I don't mind running uphill for anything. But it looked like it was going to be a vertical wall."[9]

Political views

In 2005, McCain was vocal in his reaction to revelations of Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse during the Iraq War, saying "To be fighting from supposedly the higher ground, and yet to have allowed this kind of stuff that goes on in Abu Ghraib – it destroys the fact we're fighting for the better cause. It's just awful."[12]

2008 presidential election

During his brother's 2008 presidential campaign, McCain acted as a low-key surrogate.[4] He was aware of the past foibles of presidential siblings and offered self-deprecating lines such as, "I'm the discount John McCain. They call me McKmart."[4]

On October 15, 2008, The Baltimore Sun obtained an e-mail written by McCain with the subject title "Shoaling" that spoke about his unhappiness with unnamed top campaign officials who "control the message" of his brother's run for president.[13] McCain also received press coverage for remarks made in early October. In the context of describing his naval service postings in Arlington, Virginia and Alexandria, Virginia, McCain jokingly[14][15] described northern Virginia as "communist country", for which he later apologized.[16]

The Famous 911 call

On October 18, 2008, Joe McCain made a phone call to the emergency number 9-1-1 in Northern Virginia, complaining about being stuck in traffic, a conversation that he ended with an obscenity.[17] Local police officials were not pleased, McCain said he did not think the epithet would be heard,[16] and considerable negative publicity ensued.[18] On October 24, 2008, Joe McCain withdrew from campaign activities and apologized for calling both 911 and the Alexandria police.[16]

Joe McCain, who lives in Alexandria, Va., told Washington radio station WTOP he was returning from a campaign event in Philadelphia around 2 a.m. on Oct. 18 when he got stuck in traffic on Interstate 495 at the Wilson Bridge. His account of the timing differed from the police, who said the call was made at 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 21.

Frustrated because of the traffic, he called 911 to find out what was going on. The operator asked him to "state your emergency."

"Well, it's not an emergency, but do you know why on one side at the damn drawbridge of 95 traffic is stopped for 15 minutes and yet traffic's coming the other way?" Joe McCain said.

The operator asked him if he was calling 911 to complain about traffic. McCain then uttered an expletive and hung up the phone.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  5. ^
  6. ^ pp. 290–291.
  7. ^ The Independent (Long Beach, CA) November 27, 1970.
  8. ^ "In behalf of POWs, will ask 'doves' to sign petition" (Associated Press, December 31, 1970) as printed in Florence (SC) Morning News, December 31, 1970, page 1
  9. ^ a b c d
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^
  18. ^
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