Arizona State University keeper of Senator John McCain archives

Posted at 7:18 PM, May 21, 2018

Arizona Senator John McCain's career as a politician and statesman will be forever documented through his own photos, letters, and speeches.

Arizona State University has been entrusted with about 250 boxes worth of the materials from McCain's terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and his campaigns including his 2008 campaign for president. Someday, McCain's senatorial papers will also be stored there.

The archives contain everything from family Christmas cards to state-by-state campaign strategies to letters to other key politicians.

University Librarian Jim O'Donnell said McCain "came forward from his experience in the war, his experience as a POW and began his political career with different kind of credibility than the average lawyer does."

The most extensive part of the collection centers on McCain's 2008 run for the White House. In a Victory 2008 PowerPoint, The McCain team was supposed to make a contrast between "steak" vs. "sizzle."  

Presumably, McCain is the "steak." It also includes itineraries showing which vice presidential hopefuls visited McCain's family ranch near Sedona. Updated handwritten documents outline a "McCain Doctrine" for foreign policy. One folder contained hard questions and talking point answers for running mate Sarah Palin.

"It's exciting to go back here after the fact and to see the complexity, the range of issues, the range of people who were involved," O'Donnell said. "It's a little bit like rereading the murder mystery after you know who did it.  You go back and see it an entirely different way."

ASU keeps the McCain archives in a specially cooled storage site to ensure they will be preserved for generations of historians, biographers, and scholars.

"He's always been a figure a little larger than life, just a little bit more deeply connected to the American story," O'Donnell said.