A series of emotional eulogies from family, friends and dignitaries on Saturday marked the final day of public mourning for U.S. Sen. John McCain following his death last week.
The Arizona Republican’s daughter shared memories of her father, who she said was not deterred by his political detractors.
“He was a great fire who burned bright,” Meghan McCain said, fighting back tears throughout the address.
She said “a few have resented that fire,” but added that her father “never cared what they thought.”
Without mentioning the president directly, McCain went on to include a variation of Donald Trump’s campaign slogan in describing the vision of America embraced by her father.
“The America of John McCain does not need to be made great again, because America was always great,” she said.
Trump was reportedly not invited to McCain’s funeral while his two predecessors — both of whom defeated McCain in presidential races — were among the speakers at Saturday’s event.
The grieving daughter drew what she sees as a deep distinction between her father’s service to his country and the “cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly” or the “opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege.”
Former President Barack Obama shared his thoughts about McCain, an opponent in the 2008 election and on many issues throughout the two terms that followed.
Despite their differences, he praised the six-term senator for rising above politics as usual in D.C.
“So much of our politics, our policy and our public discourse can be small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insults and phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” he said. “It pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born out of fear.”
He said that McCain “called on us to be bigger than that” and “called on us to be better than that.”
Former President George W. Bush said that McCain would sometimes “frustrate” him from the Senate.
“But he also made me better,” he added.
Obama was among several mourners to lament an ebb in the type of bipartisanship McCain endorsed throughout his career in public office.
Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman expounded on that topic when he recalled a conversation about potentially joining the 2008 presidential ticket as McCain’s running mate. The idea had been dismissed because of their partisan differences.
“He said, ‘That’s the point, Joe,'” Lieberman recalled. “‘You’re a Democrat, I’m a Republican. We can give our country the bipartisan leadership it needs for a change.”
Though the current president did not attend any of the memorial events, Vice President Mike Pence invoked Trump in his comments on Friday.
“The president asked me to be here on behalf of a grateful nation to pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who served our country throughout his life in uniform and in public office and it’s my great honor to be here,” he said.
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