Tommy Espinoza is one of Senator John McCain's long-time friends. They have been close friends for over 30 years. They met for the first time in Washington D.C. at a dinner
"The whole evening, we just started talking about a variety of different things. But what sticks out in my mind is I asked John, I said look 'I suspect you've been asked this question before, I said, but how did you manage to survive your captivity in the prisoner of war camp? What was it that kept you together?' and he kind of looked at me and goes 'You know, I’ve never been asked that question. Everybody always asks me how they treated me and of course they did treat me very well, right? So, he said 'first of all, it was my belief in God, my family and my country. I knew those pieces would in effect bring me back home.' And that stuck with me… he's also a man of faith and obviously a man that does really trust our country."
The relationship got stronger when the late republican asked the Latino advocate to be the god-father of his son, Jimmy McCain. Espinoza said he introduced McCain as his “compadre” to the Hispanic community when he was running for president.
"When Jimmy was born to Cindy and to John, I was honored by John McCain asking me to sit in and be part of baptizing Jimmy, which was a little bit of humor in John. I said 'John, you know, I'm a Catholic. So, I'm not sure that's helpful to you, he says. 'Don't worry about it that!' Typical John McCain… I say "Okay. Let's do it!'”
Despite political differences, they kept supporting one another. McCain decided that he wanted Tommy to be a key player in his senatorial campaigns and Tommy couldn’t refused.
"John goes, 'I want you to co-chair my senatorial campaign!' I said, 'Okay. Well you know what? Let me think about it, you know John, I'm a Democrat.' he goes 'nope! I need an answer now! Are you going to co-chair this campaign or not?' I said 'Yes, I’ll be your co-chairman!' So, he said 'Good!' and he hung up! That was the kind of friendship we had I was willing, basically, to put myself out there, which was very controversial in our community, especially with republicans."
Even when they had a close relationship, they didn't see eye to eye on every issue.
Espinoza was completely against McCain’s support of anti- illegal immigration bills, like SB 1070.
"There were some positions he didn't like obviously that I would stand on… at moments of elections, especially, John had to be conservative republican that everyone wants to BE elected in Arizona, so there were certain times that he took positions that were very difficult for me to swallow, but yet I had the high respect for him knowing that even as he got elected.. That the Senator would be there for our community."
As the health of the senator weened, Espinoza when to pay him a last visit and they took a picture together.
Espinoza said he told McCain that he was just visiting, no agenda, no issues. “I want you to know that I'm praying for you. I'm praying for the family, and you'll get through this, but I want you to know that I love you."