As the first senator in 1987, he met with federal agencies on behalf of a donor and savings and loan chairperson. The subsequent Keating Five scandal, which lasted from 1989 to 1991, was a public humiliation for Mr. McCain, a real blow to someone who lived by a strict code of honor.
The only Republican he sued received the mildest report from the Ethics Committee, which found him guilty of bad judgment. The television broadcasts essentially ended the political careers of several other senators involved. But this sobering experience drove McCain to become a more independent lawmaker and become a campaign campaigner who would reduce the influence of big money in politics. Eventually he became his party's presidential candidate in 2008 after failing in 2000.
Few in the Senate escaped Mr. McCain's temper tantrums, and he was extremely cutting and dismissive of those he saw as standing in the way, or what he considered unfounded views. During his presidential run in 2008, some of his colleagues whispered concerns that his temper might be disqualified. But the episodes often passed quickly, and Mr. McCain would apologize.
For a man who has built his public reputation through close links with journalists, he could also go up and down with the news media. But even when he was furious, he found it hard to hold his own, and enjoyed playing with the reporters who frequented the corridors of the Capitol.
When he returned to Washington after his disastrous diagnosis in September, reporters were told to stay away. He was not supposed to pass on illness because of his weakened immune system. It took about a day, and soon Mr. McCain walked through the Senate corridors as usual, exchanging barbs and information with journalists and colleagues who knew their moments were coming to an end with him.
The last elections of his career was a turn to the right for Mr. McCain, as he tried to fight the Tea Party movement, a wave that he accelerated with his election of Sarah Palin as vice presidential candidate in 2008. But in one of his last He opposed the extreme right – and President Trump, the man who had mocked his capture in Vietnam – by helping to bring down the republican urge to lift the Affordable Care Act.