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Bryan Recalls Colleague McCain: 'What You Saw Was What You Got'

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AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
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In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., leaves a closed-door session on Capitol Hill in Washington, where Republican senators met on the GOP effort to overhaul the tax code. Arizona Sen. McCain, the war hero who became the GOP's standard-bearer in the 2008 election, has died. He was 81. His office says McCain died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. He had battled brain cancer.

For a dozen years, Richard Bryan served in the Senate with John McCain, who died Saturday after a long battle with brain cancer.

Bryan remembered his former colleague as a blunt-talking lawmaker who was unafraid to go against his party.

“What endeared him to me is that John was a maverick,” Bryan told State of Nevada. “John would frequently speak out against a position that a number of his Republican colleagues had taken.”

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After his election to the Senate in 1988, Bryan had his office near McCain’s and recalled him limping and favoring an arm when they walked to the Senate floor, reminders of McCain’s years as a prisoner during the Vietnam War.

“I was struck with the evidence of the physical injuries he suffered,” Bryan said. “It was a constant reminder to me of the suffering and brutality he had endured.”

Bryan, a Democrat, also remembers working across the aisle with McCain on the Muhammed Ali Act that toughened federal boxing-safety regulations.

“Mccain was a boxing fan and had come to Las Vegas to watch some of the high-profile fights,” Bryan said.

While McCain was famous for his temper — something Bryan said he saw on more than one occasion — he also had a more thoughtful side.

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“John was in some ways sort of soft-spoken,” Bryan said. “There was was no bombast in John; what you saw was what you got.”

With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.