Echoes of Their Fathers: Obama and McCain

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Adm. John McCain and Barack Obama — the fathers, not their sons running for the Oval Office — have been dead for decades. But each gave his own name to his son, along with the drive to become the next president.

Both Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain reference their fathers in the titles of their autobiographical books. And when the two talk about their fathers, you can hear the sense that each is finishing a journey that someone else began.

"I am the son and grandson of admirals," McCain has said. "My grandfather was an aviator; my father a submariner. They were my first heroes."

"I am the son of a black man," Obama has said. "My grandfather was a cook to the British in Kenya. ... His son, who grew up herding goats in a small village in Africa, could suddenly set his sights a little higher and suddenly believe that maybe a black man in this world had a chance."

Both Barack Obama and John McCain went to their fathers' schools: Obama to Harvard, and McCain to the Naval Academy.

The two candidates' books about their own lives — McCain's Faith of My Fathers and Obama's Dreams from My Father — include a lot of facts about their fathers, but almost no sense of a relationship between the two.

The two fathers, John McCain and Barack Obama, died in the early 1980s. Neither man would see his son elected to public office.



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