Former presidents pay tribute to John McCain at his funeral

Posted at 12:21 PM, Sep 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-01 14:34:08-04

WASHINGTON (AP) – Former President Barack Obama paid tribute to his one-time political rival, delivering a eulogy for the late Arizona Sen. John McCain at Washington National Cathedral.

Obama said: “We come to celebrate an extraordinary man, a warrior, a statesman, a patriot who embodied so much that is best in America.”

The former president noted McCain was a conservative lawmaker, but said “he did understand that some principles transcend politics, that some values transcend party.”

Obama spoke after former President George W. Bush, another former McCain opponent. Obama said of McCain, “He made us better presidents.”

Obama praised McCain for opposing “bending the truth to suit political expediency or party orthodoxy” and as a proponent of a “free and independent press.”

Bush, who defeated McCain in the 2000 Republican primary, says McCain “detested the abuse of power.”

He added that, “To the face of those in authority, John McCain would insist that we are better than this, America is better than this.”

Bush said the Arizona senator’s absence is tangible, “like the silence after a mighty roar.” Noting McCain’s time as a prisoner of war, Bush says McCain “loved freedom with the passion of a man who knew its absence.”

Meghan McCain also eulogized her father’s death as “the passing of American greatness,” directing her message squarely at President Donald Trump and encouraging others to live up to her father’s example.

Her tearful, impassioned tribute opened the memorial service for John McCain at Washington National Cathedral. It set a tone echoing her father’s own passion.

She said they “gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness – the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”

She said to applause, “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

Key members of Trump’s administration were in attendance, including his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner. McCain’s family did not invite Trump.

President Trump is spending his day at his Virginia golf course. The president arrived at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday. He sent out a series of tweets throughout the morning, but did not mention McCain.

McCain died of brain cancer on Aug. 25 at age 81.

The Arizona senator will be buried Sunday in a private ceremony at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)